Amidst huge protest by farmers and landowners against the land acquisition to lay eight-way-expressway from Salem to Chennai, the Tamil Nadu government was proceeding project. It was proposed that Chennai-Salem eight-lane greenfield expressway project will stretch from Salem to Chennai covering up 277 km passing through agricultural lands as well as reserve forest land.
Farmers were protesting against this project as this would take away many of their agricultural lands and will also damage many other natural water bodies. However, government was firm on proceeding this project which was proposed with a budget of ₹10,000 crore.
Though there are two existing highways between Chennai and Salem, it was said that they are 334 km and 353 km long and the proposed expressway would reduce the distance to just 277 km. After the plea from the farmers and other social activists have failed to withdraw the project by the government of Tamil Nadu, many were arrested in connection with the protest against this expressway project.
Political parties NTK (Naam Thamizhar Katchi), PMK (Paataali Makkal Katchi) and Poovulagin Nanbargal (an NGO) have took legal steps to quash this project.
The hearing on this case had taken place from June to December, when the Division Bench reserved its verdict, and several interim orders were passed. The court restrained the government from forcibly dispossessing the land owners from their properties and not to use police force against the protesters.
Now, the Madras High Court on Monday quashed the land acquisition proceedings initiated by the Centre as well as the State Government for the ambitious ₹10,000 crore Chennai-Salem eight-lane greenfield expressway project.
This verdict by the Madras High Court is considered to be a huge victory to the farmers who were believed to be affected by lending their farming lands for this project.
While opposition parties say this verdict as huge blow to the ruling AIADMK government, sources say that the Tamil Nadu government will appeal this verdict in Supreme Court.
In addition, the BJP’s election manifesto says that they will continue their “existing milestone” of constructing roads at an unprecedented pace and construct 60,000 km of highways in the next five years.