Farmers have raised objection to Nitin Gadkari’s promise to push the Chennai-Salem expressway project. The High Court had earlier put a stay on the project.



Lokpria Vasudevan 

Nitin Gadkari

Nitin Gadkari has promised to push the Chennai-Salem expressway project. (Image: India Today)

A day after Union minister Nitin Gadkari vowed to kickstart the Chennai Salem Greenfield Expressway; farmers in Pullavari village in Salem upped the ante against his comment and protested by holding black flags. Farmers alleged that the government failed to respect the court order, which had stayed the project.

The farmers also demanded that the state government makes its stand clear regarding the project and ensure that farmers’ interests were protected. They also warned of widespread protests in the future and urged the minister to retract his statement.

BJP leader and Union minister for Road Transport and Highways Nitin Gadkari on Sunday said the Chennai-Salem green corridor project would be implemented after holding discussions with farmers of the region.

Speaking at the election campaign meeting, Gadkari said, “The Chennai-Salem green corridor is the most important development project related to Salem. Today, the matter is in the court and the Madras High Court has given a stay on the project. But, I assure you that higher rates would be provided for farmers whose land will be acquired.”

The Madras High Court on April 8 quashed the land acquisition process for the Chennai-Salem Expressway project.

The court observed that the project needed a major realignment as it would have adverse effect on environment. The orders were passed on a batch of petitions filed by land owners directly affected by the project and PMK leader Anbumani Ramadoss.

Soon after the verdict, Chief Minister Palaniswami in an interview to a newspaper stated that it’s the responsibility of the government to enforce the high court’s order.

The proposed 277.3-km expressway project connecting Salem with Chennai triggered a massive uproar among farmers as it would have cut through fertile farm lands, mountains, rivers and lake in five districts of Tamil Nadu.

The greenfield expressway is one of the main talking points this election season in Tamil Nadu. Opposition DMK has vowed to scrap the project if voted to power.