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8-lane corridor: HC quashes land acquisition notification
In a major setback to the ruling AIADMK that was keen on implementing the multi-crore Salem-Chennai eight-lane expressway project despite protests, the Madras High Court on Monday quashed the land acquisition notifications.
The court held that the project was vitiated on many grounds, especially lack of environmental clearance.
While the State government claimed that the project was in public interest, the division bench comprising Justice TS Sivagnanam and Justice V Bhavani Subbaroyan observed that the government cannot forget that protecting agriculture was equally in public interest. The balance between agricultural and economic developments was delicate, which might at times be very difficult for the bureaucrats and policymakers to perceive. “Thus, the interpretation, insofar as India is concerned, should lean towards agriculture,” it said.
“If the project is allowed to be implemented without prior environmental clearance, it would be grossly in violation of the principles of sustainable development and would violate the provisions of Articles 19, 21, 46, 48A and 51A of the Constitution of India,” the bench added.
Raising pointed questions, the bench wondered how the Chennai-Madurai Economic Corridor that was part of Bharatmala Pariyojana Phase-I was replaced with Chennai–Salem project. As per the data from the Ministry of Road Transport and Highways, the Chennai-Madurai corridor had higher vehicular traffic, it noted. “There is nothing placed on record to show why such a higher priority project should be dropped and a project which was never in the pipeline included,” it added.