In a major setback to the ruling AIADMK government, the Madras High Court on April 8 quashed land acquisition proceedings for the Chennai-Salem Greenfield expressway corridor.
A division bench of Justice TS Sivagnanam and Justice Bhavani Subbaroyan, while allowing a batch of petitions moved by the PMK youth wing leader Anbumani Ramadoss, advocate AP Suryapragasam and 35 land owners including the farmers, passed the order quashing the proceedings of acquiring land for the ₹10,000 crore expressway, a pet project of Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Edappadi K Palaniswami.
The bench also ordered that public hearing and central environmental clearance was mandatory for the project.
The expressway project was given shape after the Union Government sanctioned it. Subsequently, revenue officials, with the help of the police, started evicting people — sometimes forcefully — from land required for the project.
After rejecting the first petition moved by an NGO, the special bench accepted the petitions moved by PMK leader Anbumani Ramadoss, who is now in the AIADMK alliance, 35 land owners and an advocate.
During the course of hearing, as revenue officials continued to evict people, the bench passed an interim order directing authorities to refrain from dispossessing land owners of their property. Incidentally, the state government was lambasted by the special bench for its insensitive approach towards the case.