The Supreme Court on Monday refused to stay the Madras High Court order quashing of the land acquisition process for the Chennai-Salem eight-lane expressway project.
A vacation bench of Justice Indu Malhotra and Justice M.R. Shah, however, issued notice to various stakeholders including the Tamil Nadu government.
Last week on Friday, the Project Implementation Unit of the National Highways Authority of India filed a plea in the Supreme Court challenging the Madras High Court order that cancelled the land acquisition announcement for the controversial eight-lane expressway between Chennai and Salem at a cost of about Rs 10,000 crore.
The Supreme Court had agreed to take up the matter on June 3 on the request for urgent hearing made by the counsel for the NHAI.
In April, the Madras High Court had stayed land acquisition for the eight-lane road connecting Chennai with Salem, a project jointly developed by the Central and the Tamil Nadu governments.
A division bench of Justice T.S. Sivagnanam and Justice V. Bhavani Subbaroyan had held the project would have an impact on the environment, which includes water bodies, and that the project report submitted by the consultant is not sufficient and environmental clearance is necessary.
A batch of petitions was filed in the high court against the project. Prominent among the petitioners was former Union Minister Anbumani Ramadoss of the PMK, which aligned with the BJP-AIADMK in the Lok Sabha elections.
In a statement, Ramadoss said the PMK had been opposing the project because there were already three highways connecting Chennai and Salem, while the proposed 277-km eight-lane expressway would affect the livelihood of over 10,000 farmers.
The Centre, defending the project, said the highway would play a major role in reducing emission of carbon dioxide, as diesel consumption would be reduced by 10 crore litres per annum as the distance between Chennai and Salem will be reduced.
The Centre had also claimed that the expressway was an integral part of its major road programme known as Bharatmala Pariyojana-I, which targets by 2022 construction of about 35,000 km of national highways across the country.
The total project cost, estimated at a whopping Rs 5,35,000 crore, aims at decongesting six national corridors. The Centre had also informed the court that prior environmental clearance was not required from the Ministry of Environment and Forests, before issuing preliminary land acquisition notifications under Section 3A(1) of the National Highways Act, 1956.
(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)