The Gujarat High Court has dismissed a PIL seeking rehabilitation of families evicted from a slum to make way for the Mumbai-Ahmedabad bullet train project, but said these people can still approach state authorities which should consider their claim "with a sympathetic approach."

The Court passed its order on Tuesday on a public interest litigation (PIL) filed by Bandhkaam Mazdoor Sangathan, seeking rehabilitation of 68 to 70 families evicted from a slum near a railway bridge in Ahmedabad's Sabarmati area to make way for the bullet train project.

The Court, however, ordered rehabilitation of some of the families living in an area given to the National High Speed Rail Corporation Limited (NHSRC), which is carrying out the project.

In its plea, the workers' union had claimed that the 'JP Ni Chali' slum was illegally demolished by the state and railways authorities for the bullet train project, without providing them an alternate accommodation as per state government policies.

They had sought the court's direction to restrain authorities from carrying out any further eviction and to provide them immediate relief, including temporary shelter. They had also sought rehabilitation under the Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana.

The slum comprised 68 to 70 houses comprising around 350 people, with all of them possessing requisite documents, entitling them for rehabilitation as per the Gujarat slum rehabilitation policy and government housing schemes, they said in the plea.

The slum was demolished on March 15, 2021, where these families resided for over three decades, said the plea.

The first demolition happened in 2018 to make way for the bullet train project. After that, the slum dwellers moved to the road side. The demolition was then carried out in March last year, despite several representations made by the slum dwellers to the railway and local authorities, it said.

The plea also claimed that the NHSRC had at first given verbal assurance for rehabilitation, but later turned it down.

The state government had submitted before the court that the slum dwellers were not entitled for benefits under its resettlement and rehabilitation policy, and they could not be considered as project-affected persons.

With PTI inputs