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December 11, 2020
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Why in news?

Supreme Court has overruled Madras High Court verdict in acquiring agricultural land for the proposed Chennai-Salem Greenfield highway.

What was the verdict of the Madras High Court?

  • Earlier, the Madras High court set aside the process of acquiring virgin land for the Greenfield highway.
  • It stated that protecting the environment, agriculture and rural livelihoods are more important than the economic benefits of the new highway.
  • It showed a greater sensitivity to livelihood and ecological concerns.
  • It also relied on U.S. judgments - which were against in letting the projects in advance to such a stage that there is irreversible commitment of resources.

What was the Supreme Court Verdict?

  • It ruled that the Madras High Court was wrong in holding that environmental clearances is required even before the initial land acquisition notice.
  • It will be premature to expect the authorities to obtain environmental approvals at the stage of identifying the land.
  • It also said that once the land was notified for acquisition and surveyed for feasibility, all statutory clearances have to be applied.
  • Land could be taken over & construction can begin only after environmental clearances are given.
  • Measures has to be taken for mitigating the possible environmental damage.
  • It goes on to uphold the Centre’s power to notify any stretch of land as a national highway.

How does this judgment varies from its earlier one?

  • The court has previously ordered Karnataka Industrial Areas Development Board (2006) about the acquisition of lands.
  • It laid a general principle that before acquiring land for development, possible adverse environmental impact should be properly comprehended & acquisition should be done in a way that does not impair environment.
  • The present verdict is in variation from this principle.
  • It is debatable whether clearances need to be obtained before or after the lands were notified for acquisition.
  • But a holistic view needs to be taken for sustainable development rather than development-centric view.

 

Source: The Hindu

 

 

 

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