CHENNAI : Allaying the fears of the public as well as the organisations over the Rs 10,000-crore Chennai-Salem green corridor project, Chief Minister Edappadi K Palaniswami on Monday appealed to the people and environment outfits to cooperate with the State government in implementing this project as it would be good for the State on many counts and that it had more benefits than disadvantages. Responding to the query of DMK MLA I Periyasamy whether the project was really needed for the State, the CM said there was no truth in the charge that thousands of acres were being acquired and that forest resources would be destroyed for the project.
Some political parties, leftist movements and other organisations have been opposing this project alleging that forest resources would be destroyed and the mineral resources in Kanjamalai and Kalvarayan hills would be stolen, Palaniswami said and pointed out that only 1,900 hectares of lands would be acquired for this project and of this, 400 hectares were government lands. Very less number of houses and buildings would be removed for this project and no important town was crossing through this project.
This project would bring down the road accident rate, he said, adding that owners of lands and buildings that would have to be removed would be paid compensation four times what was paid for the golden quadrilateral project. Above all, this would accelerate economic growth in backward areas, he noted.
The Chennai-Salem green corridor project would be implemented for a 277.3-km stretch and would pass through districts of Kancheepuram, Tiruvannamalai, Krishnagiri, Dharmapuri and Salem. From Salem to Harur, it would be called NH179A and Harur to Chennai it will be NH179B. The corridor would help people from Chennai reach Salem, reducing the usual travel time by half and thereby, diesel worth Rs 700 crore would be saved.
At present, passengers use the Chennai-Bengaluru highway or the Chennai-Madurai Highway to reach Salem. If these two highway roads are to be expanded in the future, 2,200 hectares of lands should be acquired and around 40,000 houses and buildings for factories should be pulled down. But for implementing the Chennai-Salem green corridor project, only 1,900 hectares of lands should be acquired. Of this, only 49 hectares of land belong to Forest department and the 70-metre road would be reduced to 45-50 metres while passing through the forest. The government would compensate by providing two-fold extent of poromboke land and increase forest cover.
While laying the Salem bypass road, a tunnel would be made through the hill area without affecting the forest area. Besides, this corridor would not disturb the wild animals, the Chief Minister said.
While Palaniswami was replying to the debate on demands for the Highways department, Leader of Opposition, MK Stalin made some remarks which were expunged by the Speaker. When Stalin said he did not speak any unparliamentary words, the CM said the remarks made by him might incite protests against the project. Later, Stalin and DMK MLAs staged a walk-out, boycotting the Chief Minister’s reply. Members of the Congress and the IUML also staged a walk-out soon after.