• LAWGIC STRATUM

Thoughts on the Salem eight-way lane

Author: Shreyas N R





Introduction:


What if I told you people that building roads are essential to people who are dependent on the same area where they have been farming since time immemorial. What if I told that these roads are more important than the food that is received from these lands. In this article, we are going to understand and know about the situation and circumstances that are happening around the Salem eight-way lane which has created an environmental issue and a public issue around the area and the state.


Before getting to know about the concept of the issues that people are facing, we need to understand why these lands are needed and why these lands are of high importance to the NHAI( National Highway Authority Of India).


In 2018 the government took up the project of laying eight-way lanes between Chennai and Madurai, but later the project was extended till Salem which will cover 277.3 km which in turn will cut down the travel time by two hours and fifteen minutes.


This issue was challenged before the Madras HC by the advocates who represented the farmers of the area and also by various environmentalists. Since then there is a lot of confusion and commotions have been happening regarding the issue. On one side of the picture, the environmentalist and the farmers are protesting to stop the project that is going to happen. On the other side, the government is keen on taking up the project.[1]


Environmental issues:


There is still a major environmental issue that is not being properly addressed till now. If the construction of the eight-way has to happen it has to happen through 18 villages which is present between the route from Chennai to Salem. This will now affect the livelihood of all the people living in the 18 villages. Which in turn will cause a huge environmental hazard and an occupational hazard for the farmers who are dependent on the lands and the product that is received from the land.


The building of the highway will have an adverse effect on the occupation of the farmers and those who are dependent on the work on the farming fields. The livelihood once affected those who are dependent on the farms will be very hard to re-cope, hence both the central and the state government should reconsider the plight of the farmers and their situation[2]


Plight Of The Farmers:


From the above-known facts and circumstances, we are able to know the situation of the farmers who have been farming with their lands. There are many factors which need to be looked after before acquiring the land of the farmers. A proper notification from the government should be given to the farmers.


Even after proper notification is given by the government, suitable land for farming should be given to the concerned farmers. They have been protesting for the past two years and since then their situation has not changed.


But even having all these issues, farmers are still aiming to strongly oppose the project even during the covid-19 pandemic issue their aim is still valid and they are peacefully protesting against the central government.


On The Other Hand:


On the other hand, the NHAI authorities have said in an official notification stating that the authorities will talk with the pollution control board of the Tamil Nadu government, which will delay the laying down of the eight-way lane from Chennai to Salem. Another important issue that was told by the Supreme Court was that the contention[3]


Latest Judgement:


The latest judgement has been a blow to the gut for the farmers and the environmentalist who have been protesting to stop the project. The latest judgement that was given on 28 of July 2020 by the Supreme Court has granted permission to the NHAI to acquire the lands to lay down the eight-way lane connecting Chennai and Salem.


Here we need to understand why the initial petition was challenged by the farmers and the environmentalist and the same was quashed by the Madras High court. Initially, the farmers and the environmentalist contended against the NHAI raising the issue for not to acquire their lands under section 2(2) and section 3A of the National Highways Act, 1956.


Section 2(2) of the National Highways act tells us that the central government by notification, acquire any land for the purpose of building roads. Section 3A tells us that a notification may be issued by intent for acquiring lands for the laying down for the national highways. These were the two important issues that were issued by the farmers. Another major issue was posted by the environmentalist saying that the trees and the lands used for cultivation is being affected.[4]


Conclusion:


From the above-said facts and issues, we have come to know the issue that is going around the eight-way lane construction from Chennai to Salem. Here we had a look at both the sides of the coin, that is the view of both the farmers and the view of the government. On one side of the coin, we have the issue of national interest that is by building these roads we can reduce the travel time for transports which may be used for economical importance. The other side of the coin we have the farmers who are present in the green corridor which is of high importance from where we get major farm products and hence by building these roads might affect their livelihood. So, both sides of the party have their contentions and hence we would want the government and the Supreme Court to reconsider the issue.


References:

[1]https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/tamil-nadu/chennai-salem-expressway-project-highway-over-troubled-lands/article33317757.ece [2]https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/chennai/sc-allows-chennai-salem-road-no-bar-on-acquiring-farmlands/articleshow/79632524.cms [3]https://housing.com/news/chennai-salem-highway-project-hc-directs-police-refrain-indiscriminate-arrest-protesters/ [4]https://www.barandbench.com/news/litigation/8-lane-chennai-salem-highway-green-field-corridor-project-supreme-court

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