Chennai-Salem Green Corridor: Forest officials may push for realignment

Critics of the proposed Chennai-Salem Green Corridor have raised concerns regarding the land acquisition and environmental impact of the project.

Published: 17th June 2018 05:52 AM  |   Last Updated: 17th June 2018 05:52 AM   |  A+A-

Express News Service

CHENNAI: Critics of the proposed Chennai-Salem Green Corridor have raised concerns regarding the land acquisition and environmental impact of the project. According to the draft feasibility report, the total land required for the improvement of the project corridor is 2,791 hectares that will be acquired from five districts — Kancheepuram, Tiruvannamalai, Krishnagiri, Dharmapuri and Salem. Of this, a maximum of 1,229 hectares would be acquired from Tiruvannamalai district.

The road will pass through 159 villages. The acquired land would consist of agricultural land, community land under corporation, panchayats, various structures of public interest, residential structures and residential plots, public utilities and others. The tentative budget for resettlement and rehabilitation has been worked out to Rs 3,002.91 crore, which covers all components of compensation, assistance and entitlements.

Loss of income, forest cover

Though, the report talks about paying four times over cost as compensation to farmers/land owners, loss of income for those losing agricultural lands would be permanent. “This will be permanent setback, unless provided with adequate compensation amount and/or training facilities for new trades with sufficient seed capital,” the report says.

It may be noted that the state government has now said that only 1,900 hectares of land will be acquired for the project.

The greenfield highway would also cut through eight reserved forests — Siruvanjur, Nambedu, Alialamangalam, Anandavadi, Ravandavadi, Manjavadi ghat & Pallipatti extension, Jarugumalai and Sorakolathur. The tentative length of the affected forest area along the proposed alignment is about 13.290 km with about 120 hectares of affected forest.

Trees to be felled

While NHAI officials claimed before Expert Appraisal Committee of the Union environment ministry that an estimated 6,400 trees are likely to be felled, forest officials and environmentalists say the number would be much higher, even as high as one lakh trees.
“The exact length of affected forest area can be ascertained after the proposed joint inspection is completed. There are several critical habitats and the department would push for re-alignment in some sections to avoid forest area,” a senior forest official said on condition of anonymity, while asserting that the project would cause serious environmental damage.

The Terms of Reference of the project say that a No Objection Certificate from the Chief Wildlife Warden stating that the proposed alignment is not passing through any wildlife corridor is mandatory as is a comprehensive assessment of impact of road on local biodiversity, wildlife corridors and its mitigation strategy from a nationally recognised institute.

When contacted, NHAI officials told Express that the environmental budget shall be worked out and furnished in a detailed Environment Impact Assessment (EIA) study, which will also conduct a detailed assessment of the flora and fauna along the project road. The pre-feasibility report states, “The forest land acquisition is very difficult and a lingering process that is required for proposed green field highway.” Besides, the proposed stretch also passes through seven rivers and so bridges
are proposed.


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