BJP turns up the heat on the Congress government in Madhya Pradesh, asks CM Kamal Nath to prove majority

News Snippets

  • Sensex above 39300 and Nifty crosses 11800 as investors get richer by Rs 5.33 lakhs in a day as punters are buoyed by the exit poll predictions
  • After hectic parleys in Delhi, Chandrababu Naidu visits Kolkata to sound out Mamata Banerjee in case there is a hung parliament
  • Mamata Banerjee says exit polls are "gossip" and the Centre will manipulate EVMs
  • Exit polls predict between 11 and 16 seats for the BJP in West Bengal
  • Congress says exit polls are bunkum, the country is in for a surprise on May 23rd
  • Exit polls predict clear majority for NDA
  • Congress says it will not insist on the PM's post if opposition gets close to the half-way mark
  • Pragya Thakur says Godse was a patriot, retracts after rebuke from party
  • Modi offer to rebuild Vidyasagar statue in Kolkata, Mamata rejects offer, saying BJP alms are not required
  • Delhi HC says #MeToo can't be allowed to become a "sullying you too" campaign.
  • National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission (NCDRC) says homebuyers can seek refund if flat is delayed by more than one year
  • AFSPA might be lifted in Assam
  • Two climbers missing and two critical from an expedition tp scale Mount Kanchenjunga
  • Monsoon likely to be delayed by 5 days, to arrive on June 6
  • Supreme Court questions Bengal government over the delay in releasing BJP activist who posted a morphed image of Mamata Banerjee on her FB page
chennaisalem
Madras HC Stops Chennai-Salem Highway For Environment Clearance

By A Special Correspondent

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.