The Madras High Court Monday quashed the entire land acquisition proceedings initiated for the proposed Rs 10,000 crore greenfield Chennai-Salem highway project. The bench held the project required a mega realignment as the proposed route would have an adverse effect on the environment.
A special bench of Justice T S Sivagnanam and Justice Bhavani Subbarayan passed the order allowing a batch of petitions by 35 landowners and PMK leader Anbumani Ramadoss, reported PTI.
With eight lanes and a length of 277 km, the proposed Tamil Nadu-Salem highway was to pass through Kancheepuram, Tiruvannamalai, Krishnagiri and Dharmapuri, a mostly agrarian region with a few industrial zones. Its estimated cost is Rs 9,106 crore, with a tentative Rs 415 crore for rehabilitation and resettlement.
Protests against the project had been carried out by several farmers’ organisations fearing that the highway would affect productive rice farms in Kancheepuram and Tiruvannamalai. They are further upset about the compensation being offered by the state government which, is much lower than the market price.
Opposition DMK welcomed the High Court’s order, saying it has dealt a ‘death blow’ to the K Palaniswami government in Tamil Nadu. Chief Minister Palaniswami had earlier refuted charges that the project was meant to benefit private miners. Palaniswami has said that it was a central government project and the state was assisting in its implementation. He further said that the state government was taking steps to ensure adequate compensation to people from whom the land had been acquired.