Salem’s 8 Lane Green Corridor: Is the district on the Brink of Losing Everything?
The people of Salem have had enough and are ready to take on the government’s plan to execute the Salem’s 8 lane green corridor. Their hill ranges, lakes and thousands of acres of the most fertile agricultural land are at stake.
Even since Minister Nithin Gadkari announced this project, the state government was more interested in implementing it, with the Chief Minister Edapadi K. Palanisamy strongly making a statement, “the 8 lane expressway will be laid at all costs”. The resistance was naturally expected and still prevails after several arrests and threats.
From farmers to social activists like Piyush Manush who was arrested and released earlier this month, all have those common questions, questions that every citizen of a state would as 10,000 crores of his hard-earned money is being used and only negligible amount as private investment.
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What is the purpose of this expressway, when there are already three highways connecting Chennai and Salem? Why have the tolls been privatized? Why is there a toll gate at every 33 Km with such heavy prices? How come this project comes at 10,000 crores when the actual estimate comes at half the given estimate? How much will be the compensation to the farmers who give their land? How will you restore the sustainability of the environment if the major hill ranges are demolished?
A democratic government would have given a transparent response but they rather resorted to arrest whoever questioned them. Mansoor Ali Khan, the actor was the first to be arrested as he made a violent statement about murdering 8 persons if this plan is successfully implemented. Then followed by student activist Valarmathi who helped by advocating on behalf of the poor farmers whose land was forcibly abducted by the police.
Backed by most of the parties of the opposition, the Central and the State Government were steadfast in implementing this project and started to convince the people by announcing compensation for the trees that were cut down in this project, which proved futile later. Even politicians like Naam Tamilar Katchi, Leader Seeman is filed with cases under multiple sections after his meeting at Salem to group people as a single unit to retaliate against the government.
Meanwhile some of the farmers are still in a dilemma, whether to give their land under the land acquisition act to the government or not, as those who resist are met with severe consequences of oppression. This project that covers Salem to Chennai requires the drilling the 8 hill ranges that surround the districts which would be a devastating blow to the ecology. Salem had already witnessed many ecological problems from the dried and polluted lakes, to the garbage dumps of hundreds of acres and the worst of all, the desertification of many acres of land due to the cement work done by Dalmia years ago.
Even though some oppose, a segment of the farmers seem to be convinced and agree to the collector’s compensation for their homes, farms, lands and even hefty money for their crops. On the other hand, economists and environmentalists are strictly against this devastating project, claiming that, this would be helpful only for the people who are on top of the wealth gap scale. Poor people will not be able to pay the toll prices and clearly this is an expressway for those corporate owners of their transportation of goods from Salem as some object.
There have been quite some alternatives provided if the congestion in the traffic is the concern, some ask for the introduction new express trains from Salem to Chennai which would only cost a tenth of the total budget that the government has allotted for the entire project that covers a span of 277 Km. But till now, there has been no word from the government in favor of the people’s requests and the struggle goes on.
But this time the people are not going to leave it without a fight. Bearing what happened in Thoothukudi against those who protested against the Sterlite project and the success that followed it, the people are clear not to indulge in violence as the police did, but also resist as if it is their battle to survive.
The Government of Tamil Nadu and the collector’s amusing announcements regarding the compensations are a proof of the incompetency of administration and the Corporate Capitalists who are the brains behind this. But history will repeat once again just like what happened in the Jallikattu protests, in Thoothukudi, the people will claim their rights and will never bend their knees in front of phony democrats.
What’s your Opinion? Salem’s 8 Lane Green Corridor Project is a Wise Step or not? Tell your views in the comment box down below.
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Salem’s 8 Lane Green Corridor