SC for issuing public notice on Chennai expressway

SC for issuing public notice on Chennai expressway

File photo for representation

The Supreme Court on Wednesday allowed the National Highway Authority of India to issue a public notice to inform about its petitions and to seek a response from those who opposed the Rs 10,000-crore Chennai-Salem eight-lane expressway under the 'Bharatmala Pariyojana' before Madras High Court that had quashed the land acquisition for it.

A bench of Justices N V Ramana, Mohan M Shantanagoudar and Ajay Rastogi expressed its displeasure over one or the other party respondent appearing before it whenever the matter was taken up for consideration to claim that he had not been provided a copy of the petition filed by the NHAI against the high court's April 8 judgement.

“We want a clear picture. We can't postpone it eternally. We don't want anybody to come and say that he has not been served the copy of the petition,” the bench said.

To this, Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, appearing for the NHAI, suggested that it can go for issuing a public notice in newspapers, including in vernacular dailies to inform all the respondents whose number was in the range of 75 to 80.

In his submission, he sought an interim order. He said the taking the land for construction of the highway was not strictly as per the provision of the Land Acquisition Act

The top court had earlier refused to stay the high court's order but agreed to examine the matter in detail by seeking a response from the writ petitioners who claimed the project was being initiated without requisite environment and forest clearance.

The 277.30 km highway faced stiff opposition from activists, farmers and residents alleging a loss of agricultural land and damage to forest, flora and fauna.

The project, approved in February 2018 was expected to cut down travel time between Chennai and Salem.

The high court, in its judgement on April 8 on a batch of writ petitions by P V Krishnamoorthy and others, including PMK leader A Ramadoss, said the projection made by the National Highway Authority of India on benefits of the highway were illusory. It had among others noted there were no proper study in environmental impact of the project.

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