Are villagers in Palghar being held at bullet-point?
Residents of Virathan Khurd express apprehension about the lack of clarity from authorities on the bullet train project and related modalities, including land acquisition and compensation
"Just pan the cameras on the road from where you entered our village and see its condition. It will make you realise what we want. Make our vehicles run at bullet speed, build roads for us. What we lack is basic amenities. The village school does not have water, and school kids have to walk on muddy roads," Rajashri Sadanand Kini, sarpanch of Virathan Khurd village and a Shiv Sena activist, said.
Virathan Khurd is the village in Palghar district, Maharashtra, from where the alignment of the 508-km Mumbai-Ahmedabad Bullet Train is passing."I don't have any land myself, but I have the villagers' mandate, and I will go as per their wishes. If they are fine, I'm fine. If they oppose, so will I," she told mid-day.
Sujay Patil, an affected farmer
The National High Speed Rail Corporation Limited (NHSRCL) on Saturday inaugurated an upgraded medical health unit for villagers, who had requested for it when the district collector had asked what amenities they needed. An NHSRCL team set it up and is bearing expenses of about Rs 1 lakh a month on doctors and nursing staff to maintain it.
"This is a basic amenity. It should have been done by the government. Why is the bullet train team doing it?" Rajashri asked. Her husband Sadanand, the local Shiv Sena shakha pramukh, said they will oppose the project tooth and nail. "We don't know how much land is being taken. What if today they give a number and tomorrow take away more? How can we trust them?" he asked.
Sujay Gopinath Patil, one of the farmers affected by the project, said, "There is no clarity on how much land will go. They are giving us money at four times the value; then why not give us four times some other government land?
The NHSRCL should give our children jobs for a secure future, hand us appointment letters." Another villager on the condition of anonymity said there is no clarity on the issue yet and too much confusion and stories.
Speaking to mid-day, Dahanu Mayor Bharat Rajput said there are a lot of external elements that are spreading misinformation and lies about the project, leading to anger among the villagers. "Many of the actual landowners do not seem to have a problem with sharing their land, as the NHSRCL is giving five to 25 per cent of the land value, which one will not get in a lifetime otherwise. All those creating nuisance are not from the area and not connected with the land or village in any way. I have been telling villagers not to entertain anyone who is not from the village. The deals should be strictly between the NHSRCL and landowner.
"This is, in fact, a golden opportunity for villagers. Rumours of the kind that the entire village will be moved to Sangli and Satara and that no high-rises will be allowed are being spread. These are completely false. Only 60 feet of land will be required along the stretch of the bullet train corridor for pillars."
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