Former Union Minister and Pattali Makkal Katchi (PMK) Youth Wing President Anbumani Ramadoss on Tuesday expressed disappointment at the Supreme Court's order allowing the Central government to go ahead with the eight-lane highway between Chennai and Salem. In a statement Anbumani said the Supreme Court order overruling the Madras High Court's order opposing the eight-lane highway project would have a serious impact and was "disappointing".
He said the PMK spearheaded several protests against the highway project as it involved acquisition of nearly 7,000 acres of farmland impacting nearly 10,000 farmers.
The only respite in the apex court's order is that it confirmed the high court's order which had cancelled the transfer of land to the ruling AIADMK government, Anbumani added. As a result, the land titles would come back to the farmers.
The apex court has ordered that the Rs 10,000 crore project could be implemented by issuing a new notification for acquisition of land and getting the necessary clearances.
The court in its verdict, said that as per the National Highways Act, 1956, the government can issue a notification expressing intent to acquire land prior to environmental or forest clearance.
Section 3(A) of the National Highways Act, 1956, said the court gave the Central government power to declare its intention to acquire land by notification in the official gazette if it is satisfied that the land is required for the building, maintenance, management or operation of a national highway.
The 277-kilometre project, which is a part of the Bharatmala Pariyojana scheme, aims to cut the travel time between Salem and Chennai to 2 hours and 15 minutes. Stiff opposition has however arisen from various quarters including the farmers whose lands were about to be acquired by the state government for the project. The project, according to the plan, will cut cross reserve forest and water bodies as well.