Highway hurdle: the Chennai-Salem corridor

Share This Article with Your Friends
  • 26
    Shares
Print Friendly, PDF & Email

 

 

Highway hurdle: the Chennai-Salem corridor

The verdict on the Chennai-Salem corridor reveals the perils of fast-tracking projects
The Madras High Court verdict(फैसला) quashing (रद्द करने/अभिखण्डन) land acquisition(भूमि अधिग्रहण) proceedings(कार्यवाही) for the proposed Chennai-Salem greenfield expressway is an indictment(अभियोग/कलंक) of the arbitrary(मनमाना ) decision-making process behind the project. This is a political setback(झटका/नाकामयाबी) to its leading(प्रमुख) proponent(प्रस्तावक), Chief Minister Edappadi K. Palaniswami, given the extent(विस्तार/सीमा) to which he went to aggressively(आक्रामक ) stifle all criticism(आलोचनाओं ) and protests(विरोध ) against it. The court has referred(संदर्भित किया) to how “peaceful(शांतिपूर्ण ) protests were stifled, unwritten gag orders were promulgated(प्रवर्तित), [and] police force was used to handle the peaceful protesters who were making a request to spare them and their lands”. It was only after the court intervened( हस्तक्षेप ) that “these high-handed actions subsided ””( थम गई/समाप्त होना). It invalidated(अवैध/रद्द करना) the notification for intent(इरादा) to acquire(प्राप्त करने) land for the project on the ground that the National Highways Authority of India cannot acquire land without complying(अनुपालन/पालन करना ) with the requirement(आवश्यकता) of preparing(तैयारी ) an environment impact(प्रभाव) assessment(आकलन /मूल्यांकन) report. The decision is important for affirming(पुष्टि ) the principle that environmental clearance(मंजूरी) ought to be obtained(प्राप्त) before any project is allowed to advance to a stage where measures become irreversible(अपरिवर्तनीय ). It underscores that sufficient(पर्याप्त ) data on the possible harm to the environment is needed before resources(संसाधन/संपदा) are committed(प्रतिबद्ध ) to a project. In this case, not only would land titles be transferred to the state; heavy compensation(नुकसान भरपाई) amounts would also have been paid by the time the environmental impact is known.

The project was pushed by the Centre and the State even though it was set to pass through( माध्यम से) wetlands, fertile farmlands, reserve(आरक्षित ) forests and waterbodies. Farmers who stood to lose their land and environmentalists had questioned the claim that by reducing(छूट/कमी) the transit time, there would be saving of fuel, thereby cutting the carbon footprint. What has been exposed(उजागर/खुलासा) in the verdict(फैसले /निर्णय) is that the eight-lane corridor was never really cleared as a project under the Centre’s Bharatmala Pariyojana. It did not figure in the list of road projects approved under Bharatmala-I. The NHAI did not explain in its counter-affidavit(शपथ पत्र) how the Chennai-Madurai highway, an approved project, was dropped and the Chennai-Salem project included in its place. The court examined the record and found that there was nothing to show that it was approved by either the Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs or the Public-Private Partnership Appraisal(मूल्यांकन/अंदाज़ ) Committee; the Chennai-Tiruchi-Madurai corridor had much higher vehicular traffic to justify its inclusion(समावेश/अन्तर्भाव) in Bharatmala. The court’s conclusion(निष्कर्ष) that labelling its replacement by the Salem project as a ‘policy decision’ was not a sufficient(पर्याप्त ) explanation(व्याख्या) is unexceptionable(बिना अपवाद।/निर्दोष). Having failed to convince(मनाओ/यकीन दिलाना) the court that the procedures it followed were above board, the least that the Centre can now do is to make a comprehensive(व्यापक ) study of its impact on the environment(पर्यावरण ) and on farming(खेती/कृषि) and rural(ग्रामीण ) livelihoods(आजीविका/उपजीवन) before moving ahead.

 

 

Important Vocabulary

1. quashing (रद्द करने/अभिखण्डन)
Synonyms: crush, put down, quell, repress, squash
Antonyms: build up, compliment, encourage, let go, praise

2. verdict(फैसला)
Synonyms: answer, award, conclusion, decision, decree
Antonyms: accusation

3. proponent(प्रस्तावक)
Synonyms: advocate, backer, defender, enthusiast, exponent
Antonyms: antagonist, detractor, enemy, opponent, opposition

4. exposed(उजागर/खुलासा)
Synonyms: bare, defined, disclosed, discovered, naked
Antonyms: clothed, hidden, ambiguous, blocked, closed

5. promulgated(प्रवर्तित)
Synonyms: declare, notify, promote, publish, advertise, announce
Antonyms: bottle up, collect, conceal, gather, hide

6. invalidated(अवैध/रद्द करना)
Synonyms: abolish, abrogate, annul, discredit, disqualify, impair
Antonyms: aid, allow, approve, assist, establish

7. subsided ””( थम गई/समाप्त होना).
Synonyms: abate, descend, diminish, dwindle, ease
Antonyms: develop, enlarge, expand, extend, grow

8. acquire(प्राप्त करने)
Synonyms: achieve, amass, bring in, buy, collect
Antonyms: disperse, divide, fail, forfeit, give

9. complying(अनुपालन/पालन करना
Synonyms: acquiesce, adhere to, give in, give up, obey
Antonyms: disobey, dissuade, condemn, deny, disallow

10. compensation(नुकसान भरपाई
Synonyms: allowance, benefit, bonus, coverage, earnings
Antonyms: debt, hurt, loss, penalty, damage

11. reducing(छूट/कमी)
Synonyms: abbreviating, compressing, condensing, contracting, contraction
Antonyms: enlargement, increase

12. Appraisal(मूल्यांकन/अंदाज़ )
Synonyms: assessment, evaluation, opinion, pricing, survey

13. convince(मनाओ/यकीन दिलाना)
Synonyms: assure, get, persuade, prompt, prove
Antonyms: discourage, dissuade, fail, prevent

 

 

Credit To The Hindu News Paper

The verdict on the Chennai-Salem corridor reveals the perils of fast-tracking projects
The Madras High Court verdict quashing land acquisition proceedings for the proposed Chennai-Salem greenfield expressway is an indictment of the arbitrary decision-making process behind the project. This is a political setback to its leading proponent, Chief Minister Edappadi K. Palaniswami, given the extent to which he went to aggressively stifle all criticism and protests against it. The court has referred to how “peaceful protests were stifled, unwritten gag orders were promulgated, [and] police force was used to handle the peaceful protesters who were making a request to spare them and their lands”. It was only after the court intervened that “these high-handed actions subsided”. It invalidated the notification for intent to acquire land for the project on the ground that the National Highways Authority of India cannot acquire land without complying with the requirement of preparing an environment impact assessment report. The decision is important for affirming the principle that environmental clearance ought to be obtained before any project is allowed to advance to a stage where measures become irreversible. It underscores that sufficient data on the possible harm to the environment is needed before resources are committed to a project. In this case, not only would land titles be transferred to the state; heavy compensation amounts would also have been paid by the time the environmental impact is known.

The project was pushed by the Centre and the State even though it was set to pass through wetlands, fertile farmlands, reserve forests and waterbodies. Farmers who stood to lose their land and environmentalists had questioned the claim that by reducing the transit time, there would be saving of fuel, thereby cutting the carbon footprint. What has been exposed in the verdict is that the eight-lane corridor was never really cleared as a project under the Centre’s Bharatmala Pariyojana. It did not figure in the list of road projects approved under Bharatmala-I. The NHAI did not explain in its counter-affidavit how the Chennai-Madurai highway, an approved project, was dropped and the Chennai-Salem project included in its place. The court examined the record and found that there was nothing to show that it was approved by either the Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs or the Public-Private Partnership Appraisal Committee; the Chennai-Tiruchi-Madurai corridor had much higher vehicular traffic to justify its inclusion in Bharatmala. The court’s conclusion that labelling its replacement by the Salem project as a ‘policy decision’ was not a sufficient explanation is unexceptionable. Having failed to convince the court that the procedures it followed were above board, the least that the Centre can now do is to make a comprehensive study of its impact on the environment and on farming and rural livelihoods before moving ahead.