The Bullet Train project is yet another instance of the current government’s skewed and biased idea of development. The project will potentially wreak havoc on farmers and communities across Gujarat and Maharashtra and will lead to irreversible damage to the environment and also pushing thousands of people to displacement and utter poverty. The entire project is extremely devastating in terms of finances and will drown the country in debt in the coming years. Clearly, the way the project is planned, stands to serve the capitalists’ interest. It aids the devastating industrial corridors and is designed to be inaccessible to the common public. Currently the country is facing international flak for not being able to provide basic amenities like food, education, health and sanitation. Instead of focusing on the basic needs that will aid in the holistic development of the people and the communities, the government continues to sell people’s resources for the benefit of the corporate mafia in the country.

In his opening remarks, Shri Hannan Mollah, the national convenor of Bhumi Adhikar Andolan  criticised the government’s decision to dilute the clauses of peoples’ consent, social impact assessment and others in the LARR 2013 for a project which is basically anti-people. This was possible only by the central government bringing in ordinance to topple down the existing Act. “The need of the hour is a political movement that will finally be pro-people.” He stated while addressing the Jan Manch at Mavlankar Hall in Constitution Club, New Delhi.

Bhumi Adhikar Andolan unanimously rejected the proposal and implementation of the Bullet Train Project and called for the nation’s attention to the plight of those whose lands and livelihoods will be destroyed. The Jan Manch was attended by hundreds of farmers from Maharashtra, Gujarat and various other civil society organisations.

Through the Jan Manch, the Bhumi Adhikar Andolan intends to create a platform for transparent and open debates amongst all political parties, activists, affected populace and civil society members to discuss the various facets of the Bullet Train project with respect to the ongoing violations in land acquisition and violent attack on dissenting farmers and activists. The whole process is a sham and is not intended to serve the public at large and will only serve a miniscule few rich pushing the poor towards invisibility opined the Bhumi Adhikar Andolan.

Representatives from Indian National Congress, Rashtriya Janta Dal, Communist Party of India (Marxist), Communist Party of India, Samajwadi Party, Nationalist Congress Party, Loktantrik Janta Dal, CPI(ML), Aam Aadmi Party, Socialist Unity Centre of India, Shetakari Sangathana  Janta Dal (S) and others addressed the Jan Manch.

Ulka Mahajan of Sarvahara Jan Andolan expressed anguish while pointing out the falsity of the project. She also said that political and economic decisions that are made in Delhi are extremely ignorant of the ground realties of the rest of the country. She further said, “In the name of infrastructure development, the government is attracting foreign investment. But the question remains that at the cost of whom are these projects being initiated?” She also articulated the peoples’ frustrations while stating that the it’s the common people, the farmers of the country who carry the brunt of such “development” projects. She stated that the need of the hour is to remove fear, hunger, poverty and the divisive politics from the country instead of such pointless, so called, development projects.

Shri. Ashok Tanwar of INC, in his message, conveyed that the policies and projects of the Modi government are all anti-poor, anti-farmer and anti-worker in nature. He further mentioned, the government is specifically facilitating few rich corporate conglomerates. The need of the hour is to invest in the Indian Railways which actually caters to the larger public unlike the Bullet Train, he added. The INC has pledged its full support to Bhumi Adhikar Andolan and the farmers of the country till the Bullet Train project gets scrapped.

Shri. D.P. Tripathi of Nationalist Congress Party clearly stated that the Bullet Train project is a ploy to assassinate the farmers of Maharashtra and Gujarat. He further added, “The priority of the government should be to address the primary needs and demands of the people and current government has no focus which is people centric.”

Shri. Somnath Bharti of Aam Aadmi Party commented on the current government’s misguided priorities. He said, “We should be prioritise improvement of people’s health, education and basic amenities. The Bullet Train project doesn’t benefit the common people, it only aids the already rich and thriving.”

Shri. D. Raja of CPI mentioned that there is lack of vision on part of the government to strengthen the existing infrastructure of the railways, particularly the need to make it affordable and accessible to common people. “Hence there is no rationale for a bullet train between Ahmedabad and Mumbai rather than the Prime Minister’s ego.” He added.

Shri. Naval Kishore of Rashtriya Janta Dal said, “ The history of the current government is one which does not respect the constitution. They have always cheated the people of the country, like they are doing now through policies like GST and processes like Demonetisation.”

Shri. Javed Ali of Samajwadi Party spoke about how the Bullet Train project has not been envisioned in the development paradigm which is people- oriented. “When the fundamental infrastructure is not yet in place, a project like this for a small distance is unjustified and is a distortion of people  centred development.” He added.

Shri. K.K. Ragesh of CPI (M) said, “In a country where more than 2 crore children are out of schools and there is dearth of health facilities, the priority of this government is misplaced. The Bullet Train project is just an ornamental one which is illogical, especially when the government does not allocate resources in the social sectors.”

Shri. Danish Ali of JD (S) and Shri. Jignesh Mewani also sent messages of solidarity toBhumi Adhikar Andolan in this struggle.

The Jan Manch resolved that the project must be scrapped at the earliest. To this effort the suspension of the loans by the JICA is a small step of success in this regard. If the government does not withdraw this project, the Bhumi Adhikar Andolan  will continue to fiercely oppose it. It will also keep building resistance against all anti-people development projects which require forcible land acquisitions and the loot of natural resources. The floor also demanded that in the upcoming elections, the scrapping of this project be included in the manifestos of all the parties in opposition.
For Bhumi Adhikar AndolanContact: 9958797409, 9818864006, 9810423296, 9650015257