Top environmentalist Rohit Prajapati in a letter to managing director, National High Speed Rail Corporation Limited (NHSRC), the Government of India agency responsible for the bullet train project between Ahmedabad and Mumbai, has sought copy of the report prepared by it in connection with the visit by its Japanese funders to Gujarat and Maharashtra to assess the project’s social and environmental impact.
Pointing towards why he needs the report, Prajapati, who heads Paryavaran Suraksha Samiti (PSS), Vadodara, Gujarat, says in his letter to NHSRC chief, “During our face-to-face meeting with them during the visit, we, along with other organisations working in the bullet train project areas and affected people, had raised the issues and concerns related to blatant violations concerning both the environmental and social impacts.”
Chief representative Katsuo Matsumoto of the Japanese International Cooperation Agency (JICA), w hich is funding the high profile project, visited Gujarat on December 7-8, 2018 in Gujarat, and in Maharashtra on January 22-23, 2019 to assess complaints regarding environmental and social violations in the Mumbai Ahmedabad High Speed Rail (MAHSR) project.
The PSS letter has also been signed by senior activists Krishnakant and Swati Desai.
After the visit to Gujarat on December 7-8, 2018, Japanese International Cooperation Agency (JICA) had written a letter dated December 27, 2018 to us and we had agreed to their request to share the details and documents submitted by us to JICA, with you the NHSRCL and other concerned authorities.
We expected that such sharing of the details and documents will facilitate to address the concerns raised by the affected — the concerned villagers, organisations working in these areas and us, in a timely, transparent, and comprehensive manner.
During our face-to-face meeting with them during the visit, we, along with other organisations working in the bullet train project areas and affected people, had raised the issues and concerns related to blatant violations concerning both the environmental and social impacts resulting from the MAHSR project implementation.
We had also submitted our below representations to them, which we had also explained to them in person.
- July 9, 2018: “Bullet Train – Train with ‘Bullets’ i.e. ‘A Symbol of Violence, Absolute Force’”
- August 15, 2018: “Japanese Investor’s (JICA) Guidelines Violated in the Mumbai – Ahmedabad High-Speed Rail Project (MAHSR)”, and
- September 5, 2018: “Committee on Railways (2014 – 2015) said Bullet Train Project is Financially Unviable. At what and whose cost? For whom?”
As you would know, such high impact projects are of grave concern to not only the project-affected local people but also pose massive social, environmental and developmental concerns. It is pertinent that the concerned authorities, such as you, uphold the universal human rights principles, and laws related to environmental protection and social justice.
We are aware that pursuant to the visits in Gujarat and Maharashtra, JICA has submitted their detailed report, with all the inputs presented by the project affected people and organisations working in these areas and us, to you the NHSRC, Government of India, and Government of Japan.
Since the report is prepared with inputs from the project affected people and local stakeholders, including us, we demand that a copy of the report submitted by JICA to you be shared with us.
We further request you to update us on all actions taken by you or any other concerned authorities so far and also the future interventions planned to address the concerns raised by us / project affected people during JICA visit to Gujarat and Maharashtra.
You, as a concerned authority, is responsible to thoroughly review all the procedures and address our concerns. It is imperative now that you take prompt and stringent actions to redress violations and address the concerns completely, transparently, and promptly in accordance with law.
We request you to forward the report submitted by JICA and provide us an update on the actions taken or proposed by you, to enable us to decide our next course of action for the sake of the project affected people, environment and to uphold the applicable laws of the land.
We look forward to hearing a positive and prompt response from you.