oppn parties Madras HC Stops Chennai-Salem Highway For Environment Clearance

News Snippets

  • For the first time in history, Darjeeling loses first flush tea due to suspension of garden work for Covid-19 outbreak
  • Supreme Court asks journalists to be responsible and publish only the official version of news after it was brought to its notice that migrant exodus started after the 'fake' news that the lockdown will be extended to three months
  • Small saving rates slashed by the government by 140 basis points
  • The Centre says that the exodus of the migrants was stopped to save villages and prevent community transmission
  • The Centre says March 31 will remain the closing date for FY 2019-2020 and no change will be made for Covid-19 disruption
  • Tablighi Jamaat fiasco puts several states on high alert, attendees and their contacts being traced
  • Stock markets recover on the last day of the financial year, but the sentiment remains weak
  • The government says Covid-19 is still in local transmission stage in India
  • Government scotches rumours of extending the lockdown beyond April14. Says no such plan
  • Centre asks states to give shelter and food to migrant workers to stop them from taking to the streets
  • RBI cuts repo rate by 75 bps, the steepest in 10 years
  • Centre writes to states regarding laxity in monitoring people who had arrived from abroad between January and March
  • Kerala reports a spurt in new cases
  • With 124 fresh cases on Friday, the number of reported cases in India stand at 854
  • Five of a family, including a 9-month-old-baby test positive for Covid-19 in Nadia district in West Bengal on Friday
Total count stands ar 3082 as India records 16 Covid-19 deaths, the highest in a single day
oppn parties
Madras HC Stops Chennai-Salem Highway For Environment Clearance

By A Special Correspondent
First publised on 2019-04-16 11:15:42

The AIADMK government in Tamil Nadu had staked a lot on the Chennai-Salem highway but with the Madras High Court quashing the land acquisition proceedings initiated for it, the project seems doomed. The project is a very good example of how politicians junk procedures and approvals to take arbitrary decisions. The Chennai-Salem highway was never a project under the Centre’s Bharatmala Pariyojna. Another highway to link Chennai to Madurai had been approved. But that was junked in a hurry and the Chennai-Salem project put on the fast track.

An environmental impact assessment report is a must and is a prerequisite for any project of this scale. The project was set to pass through waterbodies, fertile farms, wetlands and reserve forests. It would have caused havoc with the environment. The supposed gain of reducing the carbon footprint by reducing consumption of fossil fuels once the transit time between the two cities was shortened due to the highway would have in no way compensated for the damage it would have caused the environment.

The Madras HC was scathing in its observations for the flouting of rules and procedures. It said that “peaceful protests were stifled, unwritten gag orders were promulgated, police force was used to handle the peaceful protesters who were making a request to spare them and their lands”. Calling the actions “high-handed”, the court said that only its intervention made the government put a stop to it. The court canceled the notification of intent issued by the National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) to acquire land for the project till a detailed environment impact assessment report was prepared.

The way governments try to push through arbitrary decisions makes it look as if they either do not know about the existence of the judiciary or do not care about it. Time and again, the courts have had to intervene when any such project is brought to their notice. With several NGOs and rights activists working for the welfare of the people now, it is high time governments realized that they have to go by the rule book or the courts will scuttle their fancy projects. A Chennai-Salem highway may be needed, but to build it, the government will have to follow the rules and not do things arbitrarily.