Meet the lawyer who has filed 1,200 affidavits against Bullet Train project in Gujarat HC

Updated: Nov 23, 2019, 08:05 IST | Prutha Bhosle | Mumbai

Ahmedabad-based Anand Yagnik has filed over 173 petitions and 1,200 affidavits in the Gujarat High Court against the Bullet project.

Lawyer Anand Yagnik proposed that a documentary be made on affected villagers of Gujarat and Maharashtra. Pic /Sneha Kharabe
Lawyer Anand Yagnik proposed that a documentary be made on affected villagers of Gujarat and Maharashtra. Pic /Sneha Kharabe

Ahmedabad: While the Indian Railways is planning a 'Make in India' touch to the bullet train, lawyer Anand Yagnik argues the project is "barely made in India". Yagnik, who was representing over 1,000 farmers affected by the bullet train in Gujarat High Court, meets us at his Ahmedabad office. He says, "The Japanese are smart. They have given India a loan at 0.1 per cent interest on the condition that the train will be built by their company. So, while the land on which the train will run is India's, every screw to build the train will come from Japan. How is it then a Make in India project?"

Yagnik is the sole representative of the farmers for whom he has filed more than 173 petitions and submitted 1,200 affidavits in the Gujarat High Court. "In Gujarat, 27 temples will be destroyed for the bullet train and 14,000 households will be affected. On an average, their monthly income is R5,000. With such a meagre amount, where will the farmers go after bullet train comes?" he asks.

Yagnik fears the government hasn't learnt its lessons from history. "It has left many projects incomplete. The Narmada Valley project has been the biggest of Independent India. While it started with Rs 3,000 crore, today it is R1,27,000 crore and the project is still not complete," he says.

Yagnik says the bullet train project is just the tip of the iceberg. "The Ahmedabad-Mumbai bullet train is NHSRCL's pilot project. The idea is to build more than 10 bullet train routes in India. This is the biggest international contract in India and abroad. People of Gujarat and Maharashtra are guinea pigs, instruments of experimentation. If this project is successful, they will replicate it everywhere in the country."

The money for the court cases has come from Yagnik's own pocket. "I am not okay with an unfair government. We are not against development, but promises to poor farmers must be fulfilled. They don't have anyone to fight for them."

In September this year, the Gujarat High Court rejected more than a hundred petitions of farmers challenging the land acquisition process and seeking higher compensation. The issue is now set to move to the Supreme Court.

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