HC halts Chennai-Salem highway; PMK, DMK welcome verdict

The Madras High Court on Monday quashed the land acquisition proceedings initiated by the Centre as well as the State Government for the ambitious ₹10,000 crore Chennai-Salem eight-lane greenfield expressway project proposed on a stretch of 277 km passing through agricultural as well as reserve forest land.

A Bench of Justices TS Sivagnanam and V Bhavani Subbaroyan of the Madras High Court provided a point-by-point takedown of the claims made by the state government and the National Highways Authority of India which had pushed for the project, from early last year.

In a 117-page verdict, the court disagreed with the stand of the government to mutate revenue records and transfer government lands, even prior to the issuance of notification under the Land Acquisition Act. Accordingly, the court ordered the reversal of all mutated land records and communications issued to landowners within a period of two weeks.

The Bench held that environmental clearance was mandatory since the project would have an adverse effect on environment, water bodies and it required a mega realignment.

It also said the project report submitted by a consultant was not satisfactory. The project witnessed several protests and was opposed by farmers.

The judgement was delivered on a batch of cases filed by advocates, farmers and politicians. Prominent among the petitioners was Member of Parliament Anbumani Ramadoss of the Pattali Makkal Katchi, which has now aligned with the BJP-AIADMK in the Lok Sabha election.

Anbumani Ramadoss welcomed the Madras High Court order quashing the land acqusition process for the Rs 10,000 crore Salem-Chennai eight-lane green corridor project and termed it as a victory for the PMK and the farmers.

DMK president M K Stalin said the verdict has sounded a death knell to the AIADMK government led by Edappadi K Palaniswami, who was keen in implementing the project, for not respecting the sentiments of the farmers.

CPI(M) State secretary K Balakrishnan, hailing the verdict, said the PMK has no moral right to continue in the AIADMK alliance if it was really opposed to the Green corridor project.