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2-min read

Tamil Nadu CM Bats for Expressway Despite Protest from Activists, Opposition

The BJP defended the AIADMK government, saying protests were breaking out because of the absence of Jayalalithaa and with the intention to dissolve the EPS-OPS government.

Poornima Murali | CNN-News18

Updated:June 30, 2018, 5:26 PM IST
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Tamil Nadu CM Bats for Expressway Despite Protest from Activists, Opposition
File photo of Tamil Nadu CM Edappadi K Palaniswamy.
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Chennai: Tamil Nadu Chief Minister K Palaniswami defended the proposed 277-km Salem-Chennai green expressway on Saturday, attacking the protesters who are up in arms against the project.

Talking to reporters, Palaniswami said: “It is the Centre’s scheme and we are only helping with land acquisition. By the time the project is implemented, the number of vehicles will increase from 2.5 crore to 3.7 crore.

“We are implementing this plan to save lives lost due to accidents. This road will also help save fuel. Trucks can save 15 litres [fuel] if this project is implemented. The government will do everything for the people who are losing their land to ensure they get appropriate compensation.”

But environmental activists and opposition parties are not convinced.

Activist Piyush Manush, who was arrested for protesting against the project, told CNN-News 18 that they had won several battles when former chief minister Jayalalithaa and Karunanidhi were ruling the state but they had no voice under the current dispensation.

Manush said, “We won several battles when Jayalalithaa and Karunanidhi were at the helm because they respected democratic values. Now that the Centre has come to Tamil Nadu through the back door, people’s voice is not heard.

“It [Chennai-Salem Highway project] is a Union government scheme and the Centre’s whims and fancies are ruling the roost here. The only question here is when will our demands be met? We will not be able to pay tolls… With the existing infrastructure, all you have to do is increase the number of trains. You don’t kill people or blame people to implement a project. What lies have we said? May we ask the state government?”

The DMK, too, questioned the haste with which the project is being implemented.

Party spokesperson Manu Sundaram said, “No amount of development jargon used by Palaniswami can change the fact that this project is being implemented without the consent of residents and without following due process of law.

“Several allegations have been made against those close to Palaniswami benefiting from the project and this haste only adds fuel to fire. Palaniswami is yet to visit Tuticorin after people were shot by the police, and soon he will also stop visiting Salem.”

The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), however, defended the AIADMK government, saying protests were breaking out because of the absence of Jayalalithaa and with the intention to dissolve the EPS-OPS government.

Narayanan Tirupathi, BJP spokesperson, said: “This is definitely the Centre’s scheme but it cannot be implemented without the state government’s acceptance. The state should acquire the land and hand it over to the Centre.

“Several infrastructure projects were carried out by both the UPA and NDA governments in Tamil Nadu. But why are these people protesting now? They want to take advantage of Jayalalithaa’s absence and destabilise the government. No government will go back on development. The Modi government has always spoken about development and this scheme too is for the purpose.”

The farmers’ community in Salem district, however, said it would continue to fight the case and not sell their agricultural lands at any cost.

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