Salem-Chennai 8-lane project: Centre urges SC to vacate HC order
The Union government on Monday urged the Supreme Court to pass an order to vacate an April 8 ruling of the Madras High Court, quashing the land acquisition process for the ₹10,000-crore Salem-Chennai eight-lane green corridor project. The High Court had held that the environmental clearance was mandatory for the sensitive project. Appearing before a Bench led by Justice N.V. Ramana, Solicitor General Tushar Mehta said the protests for environmental clearance at this point of the project was baseless as the government should be allowed to first acquire land and then seek green clearance from the authorities concerned. Acquisition comes first, followed by environmental nod, he noted.
Mr. Mehta agreed to file an affidavit by July 23 even as the court scheduled the case for July 31 for hearing. The High Court order had come on a batch of petitions filed by 35 land-owners and PMK leader Anbumani Ramadoss. The pleas challenged the land acquisition proceedings. The High Court made it clear that grant of prior environmental clearance would undoubtedly require a thorough study of the area and before that, a public hearing was needed to be conducted.
The ambitious 277.3-km-long eight-lane greenfield project connecting Salem and Chennai under the Centre’s ‘Bharatmala Pariyojana’ scheme aims to cut travel time between the two cities by half to about two hours and 15 minutes. However, it has been facing opposition from a section of locals, including farmers, over fears of losing their land, besides environmentalists who are against felling trees for it. The project runs through reserve forest and water bodies. The High Court wanted the project report by a consultant scrapped. It also wanted a proper study detailing the impact of the proposed project on forest land, water bodies, wildlife, flora and fauna.