Senior BJP leader and Union Minister of Road Transport and Highways Nitin Gadkari Sunday expressed confidence the Chennai-Salem expressway project will be implemented after discussions with farmers who are opposing acquisition of their land for it.
Addressing an election rally here in support of the AIADMK-led alliance, he said the project, land acquisition process for which has been stayed by the Madras High Court recently, was important for the development of the region. "Today the matter is in the court and the Madras High Court has given a stay. But I am assuring you, whatever the rates for land acquisition we are giving, they are more. We have increased the rate, compared to today's value, our rates are high," Gadkari said.
On April 8, a special bench of the high court passing orders on a batch of petitions quashed the land acquisition process for the Rs 10,000 crore greenfield project, holding it required a mega realignment as the proposed route would have an adverse effect on the environment.
The 277.3-km-long eight-lane project under the Centre's 'Bharatmala Pariyojana' scheme aims to cut travel time between the Salem and Chennai by half to about two hours and 15 minutes. However, the project, proposed through reserve forest and water bodies, has been facing opposition from a section of locals, including farmers, over fears of losing their land, besides environmentalists up in arms against felling trees.
Gadkari said the project was very important for the development of the area. "The Chief Minister (K Palaniswami) is constantly pursuing it... I am expecting in due course of time, with a discussion with farmers, we will resolve the issues and fulfil your dream of constructing the green expressway," he said.
Urging the voters to give a thumping victory to the AIADMK-led alliance which also comprises the BJP in the state, Gadkari, who is also in charge of Water Resources, vowed to end water crisis in Tamil Nadu. "I have credibility... I always do all the things that I declare. I know the water issue is crucial in the state. I am assuring you please elect NDA and candidates, immediately we will resolve water problem," he said.
(With inputs from agencies.)