Perplexed by the number of proposed road projects coming up at the cost of agricultural lands, a division bench of the Madras High Court comprising Justice T S Sivagnanam and Justice V Bhavani Subbaroyan expressed dismay that at the end of all this Tamil Nadu would have only roads and no agricultural lands.
The bench made this observation on Wednesday while hearing a batch of writ petitions challenging the efficacy of the proposed eight-lane Salem-Chennai green corridor including acquisition of vast extent of agricultural land, forest area, sanctuaries and felling of large number of trees.
While hearing arguments that the project does not find a place either under economic corridor or Expressway projects and when the advocate concerned made a mention about another highway coming up between Chennai and Bangalore, Justice Bhavani Subbaroyan said “going by the numerous projects in vogue and the ones proposed it seems like Tamil Nadu would have only a network of mere roads and people most probably have to feed on mud and stone”.
Justice Sivagananam on recalling a news report he had read, said based on development, agricultural lands are pushed to the brink with no water source remaining, forcing farmers to sell them as housing plots. The aspect of dams displacing numerous people also surfaced with the judge observing that those already marginalised are the worst affected in such development projects. The Sardar Sarovar Dam across Naramada river is an example where people have been fighting for their rights for the past three decades, the judge added.
At this, Assistant Solicitor General G Karthikeyan appearing for the Centre, claimed that the project has enabled agriculture in over one lakh hectares and has ushered in development. To this, Justice Bhanvani Subbaroyan wondered about this development being at what cost and about the people who had lost their precious land and livelihood. But ASG remarked that without pain there can’t be gain.
“At this rate, we might have food to eat but our children may not have it,” Justice Bhavani Subbaroyan added following which arguments resumed in the case.