Govt must be transparent about infra projects

By mid day correspondent | Mumbai

Every project must have locals as stakeholders and they must be given the accurate picture as far as possible, about how it is going to affect them. The village and its problems are a microcosm of the relationship between people and projects today

Residents of Virathan Khurd are hugely apprehensive about the lack of clarity from authorities on the bullet train project and related modalities, including land acquisition and compensation. Virathan Khurd is a village in Palghar district, Maharashtra, from where the alignment of the 508-km Mumbai-Ahmedabad bullet train is passing. A report in this paper cited the fears of villagers who stated that basic amenities like good roads and regular water supply should be given to them.

Though the villagers did admit that they are going to be paid compensation, there is a significant trust deficit when it comes to the question of how much land is being taken from them. While they have been told a certain amount is going to be taken, they are worried that more will be taken from them. They need clarity and reassurance, so it is important to keep channels of communication open. Village representatives and a few representatives from the bullet train project must meet at regular intervals and most importantly, communicate to clear the air about misgiving and trepidation.

In fact, fear is the foremost factor in most projects between the government/agency handling the project and the people. They must actually be on the same page and in fact the yawning gap because of trust issues must be resolved. Rumours abound when there is mistrust or agencies are opaque about information related to a project. It is fertile ground to stoke tension and spin conspiracy theories borne out of misinformation. Every project must have locals as stakeholders and they must be given the accurate picture as far as possible, about how it is going to affect them. The village and its problems are a microcosm of the relationship between people and projects today.

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