Union Minister Nitin Gadkari said that the Chennai-Salem Green Corridor project will be implemented at any cost while addressing an election campaign meeting in Salem. The BJP leader made the remarks in the presence of Chief Minister Edappadi K Palanisamy and Pattali Makkal Katchi (PMK) founder S Ramadoss. The PMK has been vehemently opposing the project and even filed a Public Interest Litigation in the Madras High Court. Recently, the Madras High Court had quashed the Government Order for land acquisition for the project.
The Rs. 10,000 crore project has faced stiff opposition from farmers and opposition parties stating that it will totally damage the livelihood of the farmers in the region. The land required after several levels of revisions is about 1,900 hectares, most of which consists of acquired fertile farm land. The project cost was cut down to Rs. 7,210 crore after reducing the distance by 50 km (from a total 277 km) and dropping 3 spur roads. Despite that, a vast area of the reserve forest in Kalvarayan Hills is still under the threat of being damaged by the project.
The farmers of five districts namely Krishnagiri, Salem, Dharmapuri, Tiruvannamalai and Kancheepuram have been protesting against this project, and their concerns have grown higher after Nitin Gadkari has made the government’s intention clear on completing the project. He also said that higher compensation will be provided to the farmers. But, spontaneous protests by farmers broke out in different villages after the Union Minister made these remarks.
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The National Democratic Alliance (NDA) partners continue to speak in different voices on major issues rocking the state of Tamil Nadu. The ruling All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (AIADMK) has faced strong criticism for the way it handled the protesting farmers.
With the farming sector already under threat due to poor income, the existing acquisition of farm land will further deepen the crisis of farmers. More than 27 farmers’ association in the state have already pledged their support to the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam led Social Democratic Alliance. The AIADMK-BJP combine has an uphill task to convince the voters and farmers in particular, as far as the Green Corridor project is concerned.