Salem: DMK president M K Stalin assured a gathering that the Salem-Chennai Expressway project would be scrapped and the existing highway developed as promised in his party manifesto.
Attacking Palaniswami Chief Minister K Palaniswami for being "obstinate," in implementing the project that was opposed by "thousands of people," Stalin said about 8,000 acres of farm land will be hit if the project was implemented.
Addressing an election rally in his native district, the DMK chief, who is the leader of opposition, said farmers in Kancheepuram, Tiruvannamalai, Krishnagiri, Dharmapuri and Salem districts were stoutly opposing the project.
The Rs 10,000 crore eight lane Salem-Chennai expressway project of the AIADMK government ran into rough weather following opposition from environment activists and a section of people including farmers over fears of losing their land.
Backing the project, Palaniswami, who piloted it, had said 89 per cent of the people did not oppose land acquisition proceedings and the resistance was only from 11 per cent.
"The idea is not to cause inconvenience to anyone...it is the duty of the government to fulfill the needs of the people...many people desire the scheme while some are against it," the Chief Minister had said here.
The matter also went to the Madras High Court which had reserved its orders in December 2018 on petitions challenging the acquisition proceedings.
The 277.3 km long greenfield project connecting Salem and Chennai under the Centre's 'Bharatmala Pariyojana' scheme aims to cut travel time between the two cities by half to about two hours and 15 minutes.
Stalin said not only farm land, but also eight hills, more than 10,000 wells, 154 big lakes, 314 ponds, 20 schools and over 250 ancient temples, 30,000 coconut trees, 6,700 borewells, and 28,000 dwelling units would be affected due to the project."
He alleged that even small land parcels ranging between half and one acre were being taken away forcibly from the farmers and if they tried to prevent it, "they were attacked and arrested."
"We have announced in our manifesto for Lok Sabha polls that the project will be junked and the existing highway between Salem and Chennai will be developed," Stalin said.
He also assured- a poll promise made in the manifesto- interest free loan of Rs 50,000 to rural women to start small business ventures....