Madras HC quashes land acquisition process in Chennai-Salem expressway
While AIADMK and BJP cannot celebrate the Madras HC’s decision, neither can PMK. The three parties are in alliance for the upcoming by-elections
The Madras High Court quashed the land acquisition process for the Chennai-Salem Greenfield corridor on 8 April 2019.
The land acquisition proceedings were initiated by the Centre and the state for the Chennai-Salem eight-lane greenfield expressway. The project for Rs 10,000 crore was proposed on a stretch of 277km passing through agricultural lands and reserved forests.
A special division bench rejected the proceedings after holding that environmental clearance from the Union government was mandatory.
The bench scrapped a report submitted by a private consultant on the basis of being highly flawed. The bench observed that the project would have an adverse effect on the environment and the surrounding water bodies.
The six-month-long case history
Multiple cases filed by farmers and politicians were heard by the Madras HC between June and December last year. Several interim orders were passed during the course of the hearing that restrained the government from forcibly evacuating landowners from their properties.
Amit Kumar Ghosh, the Joint Secretary, Union Ministry of Road Transport and Highways filed a counter-affidavit. It said that the expressway was part of the Bharatmala Pariyojana programme that aimed at decongesting six national corridors before 2022. The Salem-Chennai expressway was one of the six national corridors under this major road programme.
The Centre defended the project by stating that this project would shorten the travelling distance from Chennai to Salem by at least 50km. The two existing highways are 334 km and 353km. The proposed expressway is about 275km.
Thus, the centre said this reduction in the consumption of fuel would help in preventing the release of around 17 crore kg of carbon dioxide--which would match the loss in over 35,000 hectares of forest area.
Who is the winner?
The AIADMK government received severe criticism from opposition parties, particularly the Pattali Makkal Katchi (PMK) for construction of this highway. In fact, Member of Parliament, Anbumani Ramadoss of PMK was a prominent petitioner. On public stages, the PMK has called out the AIADMK for joining the centre in cheating farmers.
While AIADMK and BJP cannot celebrate the Madras HC’s decision, neither can PMK. The three parties are in alliance for the upcoming by-elections. In this unique case, there is no winner.