Gandhinagar: Senior Congress leader and Rajya Sabha member from Gujarat Ahmed Patel on Wednesday led a delegation of state party leaders and farmers to Gujarat Governor O.P. Kohli to submit a memorandum on various issues related to acquisition of land for the Bullet Train project and those concerning farmers and Panchayati Raj institutions.
"We are not opposing development, the Congress has never opposed development. Our track record of the last 25-30 years shows that we ensured balanced development of both agriculture and industries. It has never been one at the cost of the other. But the NDA government is bent upon industries' development at the cost of farmers," Patel told the media.
He alleged that after failing to bring in an ordinance to amend the land acquisition laws and an all-round outcry against the move, the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) government stuck to the law brought by the UPA regime on land acquisition.
However, they they made amendments to the parts of law coming under the purview of states and did away with the clauses related to public hearing, social impact, etc., he said.
"We oppose such amendments. Public hearings are announced hours before the hearing, making it impossible for the farmers to attend. We demand that for the Bullet Train project, either the land available with the railways should be used or the land meant for the Dedicated Freight Corridor (DFC)."
Patel said that the Congress would also support the farmers' movement to be organised in Palghar, Maharashtra, on June 3 to protest against the acquisition of land for Prime Minister Narendra Modi's pet project.
Political parties from Maharashtra have been opposing a recent land survey by the National High Speed Rail Corporation Ltd, which has been entrusted the task to implement the Bullet Train project proposed between Ahmedabad and Mumbai with Japanese collaboration.
The Bullet train is envisaged to travel through Thane and Palghar districts of Maharashtra. This has been opposed by the All India Kisan Sabha, which has launched an agitation against the project.
In the memorandum to the Governor, the Congress also alleged that the ruling BJP government in the state was not adhering to court verdicts on maintaining autonomy of the Panchayati Raj institutions.
"People had no power in either Taluka (Block) panchayats or district panchayats, as those are being run through executive orders of Taluka Development Officers (TDO) and District Development Officers (DDO), who act in line with the wishes of their political bosses," the memorandum says.
The allegations come on a day when the Gujarat High Court ruled that the members of the panchayat would not be able to bring about a "no-confidence" motion against the Sarpanch in the first year and for six months against Taluka panchayat presidents, as it would be against the spirit of the Constitution.