The Madras High Court’s Monday order quashing the land acquisition process for the Rs 10,000 crore Salem-Chennai eight-lane green corridor project, holding that it required a mega realignment as the proposed route would have an adverse effect on environment, is a lesson to planners and officials. Development is most welcome and no one objects it, but not at the cost of harming the environment and destroying farmlands. With agriculture already facing so many challenges, projects like these would only force farmers to stay away from their noble profession.
A special bench of Justice T S Sivagnanam and Justice Bhavani Subbarayan, passing the order on petitions filed by multiple parties, observed that the project would have an adverse effect on the environment, water bodies and it needed a mega realignment. The ambitious 277.3-km-long project connecting Salem and Chennai under the Centre’s ‘Bharatmala Pariyojana’ scheme, was aimed at reducing the travel time between the two cities by half to about 2 hours and 15 minutes from the present six hours.
The 277.3-km expressway, which will begin in Ariyanur in Salem and culminate at Vandalur, near Chennai, will pass through the districts of Salem (36.3 km), Dharmapuri (56 km), Krishnagiri (2 km), Tiruvannamalai (123.9 km) and Kanchipuram (59.1 km). But the manner in which the alignment was planned, requiring vast tracts of farm lands and forest lands, led to a spate of protests and opposition from the locals, including farmers over fears of losing their land, besides environmentalists who opposed felling of trees for the project. Thanks to the High Court’s order, we can now hope that it would be realigned and implemented.