June 23, 2018
The proposed eight-lane greenfield highway connecting Chennai and Salem has drawn flak from farmers and environment activists. They said a major portion of the corridor that runs through the district would end up destroying both agricultural lands and forest areas.
As the Tamil Nadu Government pushes for the Rs 10,000-crore expressway connecting Salem and Chennai, protestors have slammed the government for not consulting the people whose agricultural lands and livelihoods are at stake.
At a press conference on Friday, Salem District Collector Rohini said the district administration was taking all steps to compensate farmers in a satisfactory manner and offering a rehabilitation plan. “The compensation provided would not just be for the land. We will pay for structures on the land too like all trees, wells, houses and cow sheds,” she said.
As per provisions of the Land Acquisition Act and the guideline value, there was scope for farmers getting compensation anywhere between Rs 21.5 lakh to Rs 9.05 crore per hectare. As on Friday, the preliminary measurement for the road has been done for 17 km. A total 126 hectares belonging to 853 patta owners have been measured.
However, the administration’s move has been rejected by farmers who claim that neither the money nor their words was “any compensation for their potential loss of livelihood”.
Farmer Sivagami from Ramalingapuram village told The Covai Post that the Government was not transparent in informing them about the land acquisition. The Government had announced compensation of Rs 16 lakh per acre, that too in two installments and Rs 18,000 only for trees which were 15-20 years old.
She added that if the eight-lane road was implemented, Ramaligapuram would be destroyed totally. This village includes temples, schools and farming lands. The Government had not made any statement about the relocation of schools and temples.
Government officials said people opposing the project constituted just 1 per cent of the total number of farmers.
Another farmer M Chandrakumar from Irulapatti village said the Government would take 1.3 acres of agricultural land from him. He also wanted the Government to explain the benefits of this expressway to farmers and villagers. The Government had announced that only 6,500 trees would be felle when it would be more than 1 lakh trees just between Manjawadi and Kalipetta in Dharmapuri district.
“I won’t give my agricultural land for this expressway,” he said. The road runs 53 km in Dharmapuri and would affect many lakes like Senkuttai, Lingapuram and Vannan Lake, water sources for animals in the reserved forest.
The preliminary measures had been done without proper information to farmers, they alleged. The officials along with 200 policemen came early in the morning and measured the land. Police were not allowing anybody to talk about the issue, Chandrakumar added.