July 06 2020
Let T.N. not hinder development, ASG tells HC
15 December 2018

‘No opposition to the Bharatmala Pariyojana in any other part of the country’

The proposed ₹10,000-crore Chennai-Salem greenfield expressway was part of a much bigger and ambitious nationwide project titled Bharatmala Pariyojana, aimed at connecting all major ports in the country for quick transportation of perishable goods and there was absolutely no opposition to the project anywhere in the country but Tamil Nadu, Assistant Solicitor General G. Karthikeyan argued before the Madras High Court on Friday.

Summing up his arguments before Justices T.S. Sivagnanam and V. Bhavani Subbaroyan, he said former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee had executed the golden quadrilateral project only after realising that laying of good roads had led to development in western countries, though most were under the wrong impression that it was the other way round.

“Now we are marching towards progress with the Bharatmala Project- Phase I. Let there not be any hindrance from Tamil Nadu. This project has been going on simultaneously in every part of India and to my knowledge, there is no opposition from any side and no court case in any State except Tamil Nadu,” he said. Intervening during his submissions, Justice Bhavani remarked: “So this project is not for people, it is only for ports is it?”

Urging the court to give more weightage to the significance of the project, he said the decision to drop the plan to widen the Chennai-Madurai National Highway and instead take up the Chennai-Salem expressway project under Bharatmala Pariyojana was taken at the ministerial level and not by the executives. He said the Union Ministry for Road Transport and Highways had the right to pick and choose the best components for the project.

Alignment not final

The ASG also claimed that the alignment for the expressway had not yet been finalised. When Justice Sivagnanam wanted to know why a notification under Section 3A of the National Highways Act of 1956 had been issued for acquisition of lands, Mr. Karthikeyan replied that the notification only expressed NHAI’s intention to go for a particular alignment. “It is only after we enter these lands and study, we’ll know whether the proposed alignment is viable or not,” he said.

Once the officials were satisfied with the alignment, a notification under Section 3D would be issued and thereafter the land owners would be dispossessed of their properties, he explained. The batch of cases before the court included a public interest litigation petition filed by former Union Health Minister and sitting Member of Parliament Anbumani Ramadoss of Pattali Makkal Katchi, through his counsel K. Balu, against the proposed expressway.

The judges then reserved their verdict on a batch of cases filed against the proposed expressway.



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