Land acquisition has to come first: NHAI to SC

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Oberoi Realty to develop 13,450 sq meters land in Mumbai

Land acquisition at the Salem-Chennai corridor is of national importance. The National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) told the Supreme Court recently that the Rs 10,000-crores Salem-Chennai eight-lane greenfield road project was of “national importance” and getting an environmental clearance before land acquisition would be “like putting the cart before the horse”.

The authority urged a Bench, led by Justice N.V. Ramana, to vacate an April 8 order of the Madras High Court, which held that prior environmental clearance was mandatory for the sensitive project.

Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, for NHAI, said the protests for environmental clearance at this point of the project was baseless, as the government should be allowed to first acquire the land and then seek green clearance from the authorities concerned. Acquisition comes first, followed by environmental nod.

The High Court’s order had come on a batch of petitions filed by 35 landowners and PMK leader Anbumani Ramadoss. The pleas had challenged the land acquisition proceedings.

The High Court had made 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.

Opposition from locals

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 waterbodies.

The High Court had wanted the project report by a consultant to be scrapped.

The court posted the next hearing for September 4.

Source: News On Projects