The Bhumi Adhikar Andolan strongly condemns the use of force, money power and fraud by the administration to take possession of land for the Bullet Train project. When the use of police force was strongly opposed by the farmers and their organisations, the administration sent teams to the villages to cajole them into “voluntarily” parting with their lands. The administration has employed a fleet of retired revenue officials and youth from other villages to visit the project affected villages. Under the guise of updating land records and bringing the names of heirs on record, they have fraudulently taken the thumb impressions of unsuspecting adivasis on Consent forms (sahamati patras). For every thumb impression obtained, the youth were initially given an incentive of Rs. 1,000/-, which has subsequently been increased to Rs. 2,000/-. This is in addition to the substantial monthly honorarium being paid to them and their team members. The Bhumi Adhikar Andolan condemns the use of money by the authorities and questions the source of funding for the same. It calls upon the High Speed Railway authorities to put its financial statement (including details of expenditure) for the past 3 years in the public domain.
Having obtained only limited success through “mutual negotiation”and “voluntary sale”, the government on 31st May 2019 announced that it would acquire the lands under the Land Acquisition Rehabilitation and Resettlement (LARR) Act 2013. As the said Act mandatorily requires the consent of the Gram Sabhas situated in the Scheduled Areas prior to the initiation of any land acquisition proceedings, the administration instructed the Gram Sabhas to organise the same. On 13th July resolutions were passed refusing to give consent in 6 of the 11 Gram sabhas in Dahanu taluka, and on 14th July in 4 of the 6 Gram Sabhas in Talasari taluka. The remaining Gram Sabhas were adjourned for want of quorum. Similarly most Gram Sabhas were adjourned in Palghar taluka on 11th July. In other words, not a single Gram sabha has given its consent to the Project.
Even so, the teams of youth employed by the administration, are going around in the villages befooling the adivasis to sign or put their thumb impressions on consent forms. If the official position of the government is to acquire the land vide LARR 2013, then why are the teams continuing trying to obtain “voluntary” consent ? Some talathis have also been involved in obtaining “consent”, under the guise of bringing the names of heirs on record (“vaaras nond”).
The Bhumi Adhikar Andolan strongly condemns the misuse of official machinery. It also demands that the government comes clean on its adopted policy for obtaining the land – is it acquiring the land vide LARR 2013 is it continuing its policy of “mutual negotiation” ?
On 16th July, a large posse of police accompanied the surveyors to measure the land in Jamshet village of Dahanu taluka. While the administration claimed that 87 farmers had consented to the measurement, the farmers present vociferously protested saying that their consent had been taken fraudulently. The individual farmers submitted in writing to the surveyors that they were not consenting to the measurement, but the surveyors refused to accept the same. Nevertheless, as the farmers had refused to give their consent, the joint measurement did not take place.
We demand that the government upholds the law and refrains from the misuse of official machinery to forcibly acquire the land