Chennai-Salem Project: Plea in SC seeks review of Dec 8 Verdict

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A petition has been filed in the Apex Court seeking review of its Dec 8 judgement which upheld the notification for acquisition of land for the Rs 10,000-crore Chennai-Salem eight-lane green corridor project.

The plea contended that the Supreme Court verdict has “Errors Apparent on the face of the Record” & would result in “gross miscarriage of justice.”

The petition filed by Salem resident Yuvaraj S stated that the review plea is primarily based on the contention that the court didn’t have the occasion to consider that law laid down for judicial review of purported Public Policy when there is violation of a larger policy.

The Supreme Court, in its Dec 8 verdict, however, dismissed the appeal of land owners against the acquisition of their land for the project.

The Supreme Court’s verdict had come on a batch of appeals filed by the Centre & the National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) & few land owners & others including PMK leader Anbumani Ramadoss.

These pleas were filed against the Madras High Court’s judgement, delivered on April 8, 2019, holding as illegal & bad in law the notifications issued under Section 3A(1) of the National Highways Act for the acquisition of specified lands for the construction of the new highway which was part of the larger ‘Bharatmala Pariyojna Phase I5’ project.

A bench of Justice A M Khanwilkar, B R Gavai & Justice Krishna Murari had partly allowed the appeals of the Centre & the NHAI to the extent of quashing of the notification to acquire land for the highway project by the High Court of Madras & gave its nod to again proceed with the process.

The impugned judgment & order is modified. The challenge to impugned notifications under Sections 2(2) & 3A of the 1956 Act, respectively, is negative. The Central Government and/or NHAI may proceed further in the matter in accordance with law for acquisition of notified lands for construction of a national highway for the proposed section/stretch, the judgement had said.

The ambitious 277.3-km-long eight-lane greenfield project aims to cut travel time between the two cities Chennai & Salem by half to about two hours & 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 & water bodies.

Earlier, the HC’s order had come on a batch of pleas filed by 35 landowners & PMK leader Ramadoss. They had challenged the land acquisition proceedings.

The HC had made clear that grant of prior environmental clearance would undoubtedly require a thorough study of the area & before that, a public hearing was needed to be conducted.

It had also held as “unsatisfactory” the project report of a consultant & said it needed to be scrapped.

It had said unless a proper study was made, the impact on the forest lands, water bodies, wildlife, flora & fauna cannot be assessed.

Environmental clearance was mandatory since the project would have an adverse impact on the environment, including water bodies, it had said. 

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