Kochi-Mangalore gas pipeline: SC for status quo in Tamil Nadu

Kochi-Mangalore gas pipeline: SC for status quo in Tamil Nadu

The Supreme Court today directed Gail India to maintain status quo in its Rs 3,400 crore Kochi- Kuttanad-Bangalore-Mangalore gas pipeline project in Tamil Nadu while strongly pitching for protecting farmers' interests.

The apex court asked the project executors to explore the possibility of carrying out the scheme by using land along the national highway and questioned them only for acquring farmers land.

"Why do you want to go into farmers house. It is very improper. You are only asking for farmers land," a bench comprising chief justice P Sathasivam and justices Ranjan Gogoi and M Y Eqbal observed.

While issuing notices to Gail India and other stake holders and asking them to respond within four weeks to the objections raised by the Tamil Nadu government and farmers from the state, the bench said, "in the meantime it is directed that status quo be maintained as of today."

The bench, which posted the matter for further hearing on February 17, asked Gail India to inform it about the land required along the national highway for carrying the project.

"You have to tell how much land will be required on both sides of the national highway," the bench said and asked the project-executors to safeguard the interest of farmers.

Tamil Nadu's plea was made by senior advocate Mukul Rohatgi and Additional Solicitor General L Nageshwar Rao tried to impress the bench about the national importance of the project.

The Tamil Nadu government and farmers association had moved the apex court challenging the Madras High Court order that quashed the state's notification prohibiting GAIL India from implementing its gas pipeline project passing through argicultural lands in seven districts of the state.

The GAIL India had challenged in the High Court the state government notification asking it to stop placing pipelines in agricultutal lands and implement the project by laying them along national highways.

The project has to pass through seven districts of Tamil Nadu, a distance of 310 kilometre covering 134 villages, 505 km in Kerala and 85 km in Karnataka.

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