Madras HC quashes land acquisition for Rs 10K-cr Chennai-Salem road project

The Madras High Court has quashed acquisition proceedings for the ruling AIADMK’s Rs 10,000 crore Chennai-Salem eight-lane expressway project that landed in a controversy after a section of farmers, political parties and NGOs opposed the plan.

A division bench of Justices T S Sivagnanam and V Bhavani Subbaroyan on Monday cancelled the land acquisition announcement for the project.

The state government had in May 2018 issued notification and started acquiring lands for the project evoking strong protests by the farmers.

Pattalai Makkal Katchi (PMK), which has now aligned with BJP and AIADMK for Lok Sabha polls, and others have filed a case in the High Court against the road project.

Reacting to the judgement, K Balu, PMK spokesperson, told media that it was a victory for PMK. Tamil Nadu Fisheries Minister D Jayakumar said the government will not implement projects that would affect farmers. However, he added he is yet to study the order.

The proposed 277.30 km-long highway had to connect Chennai and Salem district. It has seen protests by farmers, environmental activists and political parties in the state. They have slammed the government for not consulting the people whose agricultural lands and livelihoods are at stake.

The project requires a grand total of 2,791 hectares to be acquired, which includes agricultural land, community land, and residential plots. According to the pre-feasibility report submitted to the Union Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change, the residents would be ‘adequately compensated’ according to the Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation, and Resettlement Act, 2013.

While ruling faction wants to implement the 8-lane highway is a mega-project spread over 277-km long, its main rival DMK in its manifesto said that the project has been outrightly rejected by the farmers and people of the five districts through which the proposed road will go. Hence the DMK will not accept this project.