The Gujarat High Court has dismissed a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) seeking rehabilitation of slum-dwellers, evicted ‘Bullet train’ project.
A division bench of Chief Justice Aravind Kumar and Justice A.J. Shastri on Tuesday said that “after careful consideration of every material, we found no case” and dismissed the PIL titled ‘Bandhkaam Mazdoor Sangathan Vs State of Gujarat & Ors’.
It said that the petitioner can give representation to the government. It will be open for the petitioner to “avail any other remedy to ventilate their grievance by putting specific representation in which event the state authorities with sympathetic approach, (can) consider their claim and find out if it fits in any other policy”, it said.
According to the petitioner, sum dwelling JP ni Chali came into existence in 1991 where migrants settled and grew to 68-70 with a population of 350 by 2021. The residents were first attempted to be evicted in 2018 by the state and railway authorities for the bullet train project.
As submitted by advocate Hetvi Patel representing the Bandhkaam Mazdoor Sangathan, “A verbal assurance was given by the National High Speed Railway Corporation Limited (NHSRCL) that surveyed the area, to the slum dwellers that they will not be asked to vacate the land unless they were rehabilitated.”
However, between 2018 and 2021, no rehabilitation process was carried out and the dwellers continued to live at the site, where they had been residing for 30 years. In February 2021, they were issued a common notice by the railway administration to vacate in seven days, following which the dwellers made representations to various authorities.
On March 15, 2021, the railway administration started demolishing the settlements, leaving 318 persons homeless.
The Gujarat HC in an order last year, had instructed the Ahmedabad district administration to undertake an exercise according to the provisions of the Right to Fair Compensation and Transparency in Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement (RFCTLARR) Act, 2013, giving a fair opportunity of hearing to all stakeholders. The Gujarat government in an affidavit had then submitted that 18 slum dwellers were existing on the alignment line of 22 square metres of land that was “given to NHSRCLa.
According to the Gujarat government’s submission in the HC, none of the residents are liable for any benefit under the rehabilitation policy. The Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation (AMC) also submitted that it does not have any policy for rehabilitation for slum-dwellers living on railway land. Western Railways, too, submitted that they do not have any rehabilitation policy for them.