Weighing in on the controversial Salem-Chennai expressway project, Tamil Nadu Chief Minister K Palaniswami Saturday refuted charges that the project was meant to benefit private miners and called it someone’s “figment of imagination” to bring disgrace to the government.
“(The question) itself is a figment of imagination, to bring bad name to the government… The project is not meant for the benefit of any individual but for overall development of Tamil Nadu,” Palaniswami told reporters at Salem Airport.
Protests against the Rs 9,106 crore project have 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.
Palaniswami stated 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.
The 277-km-long highway will pass through Kancheepuram, Tiruvannamalai, Krishnagiri and Dharmapuri, a mostly agrarian region with a few industrial zones.
The Tamil Nadu CM added the state government would provide a quality road using modern technology to avoid road accidents. Nearly 16,214 lives have been claimed on this stretch of road, Palaniswami said.
Palaniswami also noted that the present government was offering more compensation than DMK, as the guideline value had increased.
The chief minister further claimed that in view of a possible increase in diesel prices and the last six months’ average, the transport sector would therefore benefit from the eight-lane project, as the distance would be reduced.
A lorry can save up to Rs 1,050 on diesel with reduction of distance by 60 km, minimising the wear and tear, the chief minister said.
The Green Express Way Corridor under the Centre’s ‘Bharatmala Pariyojana’, would stimulate growth like the Mumbai-Pune and Delhi-Agra expressway projects, the chief minister had recently asserted.
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