Bullet train land protest in Gujarat

Farmers from Surat district on Thursday approached Gujarat High Court against a preliminary notification issued by the state government for acquisition of land for the Mumbai-Ahmedabad high-speed rail project.

The farmers from Antroli village of Surat’s Palsana taluka in their petitions claimed the government had not followed rules and said the notification should be quashed. The petitioners claimed that the process of land acquisition could not be started before revising the prices of their land as mandated under the Land Acquisition Act, 2013.

They claimed the government wanted to take into account the market rates of 2011 and demanded that the rates be revised according to the market price of 2017, when the project was initiated. After admitting four petitions from these farmers, the division bench of Chief Justice R. Subhash Reddy and Justice V.M. Pancholi asked the government pleader to take instructions from the government and fixed the matter for hearing on Monday.

The farmers claimed that the state government had issued the preliminary notification under Section 11(1) of the Right to Fair Compensation and Transparency in Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement Act, 2013, on April 9, declaring its intention to acquire the land. This acquisition process, they claimed, was initiated even before the market value of the land to be acquired had been updated.

The farmers also said the state government did not have powers to issue such a notification since the project was divided between two states, Gujarat and Maharashtra. In such a scenario, only the Centre could issue a notification for the acquisition of land, the petitioners contended.

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