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Chennai-Salem expressway: Supreme Court upholds land acquisition for project [Read Judgment]

In a relief to the Central government and the NHAI, the Supreme Court on Tuesday allowed the highway authority to go ahead with the Chennai-Salem 8-lane expressway under the Bharatmala Pariyojana.

A bench of Justices A.M. Khanwilkar, B.R. Gavai and Krishna Murari upheld the notifications issued for acquiring the land for the said project. The court has partly allowed the appeals against the Madras High Court order to the extent it quashed the land acquisition notifications. 

The Court observed, “It cannot be overlooked that the role of the competent authority under the environmental law or forest law is limited to scrutiny of the formalized project brought before it prior to its implementation by the executing agency, to ascertain whether it may have any environmental impact and if so, to impose such conditions by way of remedial steps to minimise and mitigate the impact while keeping in mind the need to fulfil the State’s obligation of sustainable development.”

The Apex Court has pronounced its verdict on batch of petitions by Centre and NHAI against the Madras High Court‘s order of 2019 that had quashed acquisition notification of land for Rs 10,000-crore Chennai-Salem 8-lane expressway under the Bharatmala Pariyojana.

The 277.30-km highway faced stiff opposition from activists, farmers and residents alleging loss of agricultural land and damage to forest, flora and fauna.

The project, approved in February 2018, was expected to cut down travel time between Chennai and Salem.

The high court, in its judgment on April 8, 2019, on a batch of writ petitions by P V Krishnamoorthy and others, including PMK leader A Ramadoss, said the projection made by the National Highway Authority of India on benefits of the highway were illusory.

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It had among others noted there was no proper study on the environmental impact of the project.

Read the judgment here;

19781-2019-35-1501-25026-Judgement-08-Dec-2020-1

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