A week after election results were announced, the Central government on Friday filed an appeal in the Supreme Court against the Madras High Court order quashing the GO ordering land acquisition for the Salem-Chennai eight-lane greenfield project.
The center-sponsored 277 km long eight-lane project connecting Salem and Chennai was proposed with the aim to cut the travel time by more than two hours. But the state government faced huge opposition from a section of the people and farmers as the proposed project involves farmland acquisition and passes through ecologically sensitive areas.
The state government used police protection to conduct surveys for the project and managed to acquire a few acres, too. In a series of protests against the land acquisition, at least five people committed suicide.
A political party that is now in alliance with the AIADMK and a few farmers approached the Madras High Court seeking a stay of the land acquisition process.
On hearing a bunch of petitions against the land acquisition process, in early April, the Madras High Court quashed the Government Order on land acquisition proceedings. Facing public ire on the eve of Lok Sabha polls and by-polls, many ministers and leaders preferred to stay silent. But KT Rajenthra Bhalaji, a dairy development minister, said that the government would go for an appeal before the Supreme Court and would implement the project. Reacting to this, Chief Minister Edappadi Palaniswami said the government was duty-bound to enforce court orders.
Farmers who have been protesting against the project told The Federal that they would continue to fight against the project in the Supreme Court as well. Speaking to The Federal, Mu Chandirakumar, who coordinated the protest in the Dharmapuri and Krishnagiri region, said that they have filed a caveat in the Supreme Court.
“We know that the government would use all its institutions as a weapon to grab the farmlands. But, we would not let them take it away. We would fight in the legal arena as well,” he said.