The publicity crazy, Salem District Collector Rohini Bhajibhakare, on Friday said, “The district administration is taking all the steps to compensate farmers to their satisfaction along with a suitable relief and rehabilitation plan for them. The compensation provided will not just be for the land. We will pay for structures on the land too like all the trees, wells, houses and cow sheds. As per provisions of Land Acquisition Act and the guideline value, there is scope for farmers getting compensation anywhere between Rs 21.5 lakh to Rs 9.05 crores per hectare. Till yesterday, the preliminary measurement for the road has been done for 17 kms. 126 hectares of land belonging to 853 patta owners has been measured for this road.”
The compensation appears to be very liberal. Even the Chief Minister in his speech in TN assembly, said the compensation that is to be paid for the lands acquired would be four times than that paid during 2007-2008.
But neither the Chief Minister nor the Salem Collector told the state who will foot the compensation bill.
Chief Minister Edappadi is well aware about the financial positition of the State. But he too has conveniently omitted to mention that for any ‘new’ project under the Bharatmala Pariyojana, 50% of the cost for land acquisition has to be borne by the state. In the Bharatmala guideline, it has been mentioned as
“G. Projects which are not part of Bharatmala Pariyojana Phase I
If any such project is proposed by the State or is otherwise considered necessary and expedient to build including Ring Road or Bypass which is not part of the Bharatmala shelf of Projects; such a new project is to be taken up for consideration by MoRTH only if the State/Agency is ready to bear at least 50% cost of land acquisition.”
As per the latest Tamil Nadu TN’s debt would reach 3.55 lakh crore by the end of 2018-2019.
Edappadi Palanisamy cannot claim ignorance about the fact that 50% of land acquisition cost should be borne by the state. In fact in the memorandum presented to the Union government, Edappadi Palanisamy has stated “It has been stated in the guidelines of the Bharatmala Pariyojana that apart from the shelf of projects identified under the program, any new project proposed by the State will be taken up for consideration by the Ministry, if the State is ready to bear at least 50% of the cost of land acquisition.”
It is shocking to know that in the detailed dossier presented to the Union government by Edappadi Palanisamy on 23.11.2017, nowhere Salem 8 lane corridor is mentioned. In fact, stressing the importance of Salem, Edappadi Palanisamy had batted for 6 / 8 laning of Bangalore – Hosur – Dharmapuri – Salem – Namakkal – Karur -Dindigul – Madurai section of NH-7. In his detailed dossier, Edappadi says, “Salem is an important city in the State. A major part of the mineral wealth of the State is found in Salem district, including Magnesite, Bauxite, Limestone, Iron-ore, Quartz and Granites.
Salem Handloom Industry is well established industry. Important Corridors like North-South Corridor, Salem-Cochin National Highway and many State Highways pass through Salem City. All these are causing the City to play a vital role in State’s Economy.
Keeping in view of the increased traffic scenario with multiple choke-points and their vulnerability to accidents, Bangalore – Hosur – Dharmapuri – Salem – Namakkal – Karur -Dindigul – Madurai section of NH-7 (new No.44) may be considered for inclusion in the priority list prepared by MoRT&H to upgrade from 4-lane to 6/8 lane configuration.
(iii) The stretch of Salem – Kumarapalayam – Bhavani – Perundurai – Chengapalli of NH-47 (new No.544) can be considered for up gradation from 4-lane to 6-laneconfiguration to have a uniform connectivity as the section beyond Chengapalli up to Coimbatore has already been developed as a 6-lane highway. Further section beyond Coimbatore and up to Cochin may also be considered for up gradation to 6-lane standards to make the entire corridor from Salem to Cochin as a 6-lane interstate highway.”
While Edappadi Palanisamy knew very well that the 6/8 laning of existing corridors can be done easily without large land acquisition, what prompted Mr.Palanisamy to introduce this new project forcefully is a million crore question (quite literally).
As per the guidelines for Bharatmala Pariyojana, the new proposed Salem green-field expressway would not fit in the Bharatmala project at all.
As per the Bharatmala Pariyojana guidelines, the following is the criteria for a ‘Greenfield expressway’. “Green-field expressways- Certain sections of National and economic corridors have traffic exceeding 50,000 PCUs and have also developed several choke points.”
So as per the bharatmala guideline, green-field expressways are created where traffic is exceeding 50,000 Passenger Car Units (PCU). But, Pawan Kumar, Regional Officer of NHAI, in an interview to Hindu says, “Also, a ministry guideline allowed us to reduce the width of the road from 110 m to 70 m since we would have less than 40,000 passenger car units of traffic. In forest areas, which run to a length of total 10 km, the width is further reduced to 50 m,” Read the full report here. So, even as per the assessment of NHAI, there would be only 40,000 PCUs.
That apart, NHAI’s regional manager also says, the width of the road will be reduced to 70 meters and further to 50 meters in certain places. If that is the case, what is the necessit for a green-field expressway or can it be called as one ?
As reported in 8-lane article series’ part two, the guidelines for Greenfield-expressway, economic corridors etc. were framed after thorough, detailed scientific survey / methods. Only after such a thorough survey / study, 1900 kms across the country were identified for develoment as ‘green-field expressways’ as per Bharatmala document. The document also says that “a Around 800 kms are being taken up under this category in Phase-I of Bharatmala” and certainly Salem 8 lane is not in the 800 kms identified or the 1900 kms.
Without any study or research, how did Edappadi Palanisamy identify the Salem 8 lane, is again a ‘million crore’ question.
To introduce a project under Bharatmala Pariyojana and fast-track it the following are the conditions as per Bharatmala document under the title ‘Grand challenge mechanism’.
- Within the Bharatmala Pariyojana, 10% funds are to be kept earmarked to take up projects under the “Grand Challenge‟ mechanism on reducing balance basis vis-à-vis annual fund allocation for the Bharatmala Pariyojana to take up projects on fast track basis where sufficient and timely land is made available by the State Government as per norms of MoRTH.
- a) Under the Grand Challenge Mechanism, a maximum of two stretches of roads not exceeding 100 kms are to be allowed from any one State in a particular financial year.
- b) States are to indicate their preference for a stretch from the final list of the roads included in the Bharatmala Pariyojana in the month of April every year.
- c) Once such an intention has been shown by a State, MoRTH will send a preliminary confirmation to the particular state and proceed to finalize the alignment and prepare the DPR.
- d) If a State has acquired 50% of the land by the time the DPR is ready, then such DPRs will be put on fast track mode and MoRTH will send secondary confirmation to State Government.
None of the above conditions are met for the Salem 8 lane project. Then why the new Salem 8 lane is shoved in people’s throats violently is again ‘a million crore’ question.
The loop holes exposed everyday in the Salem-Road to Hell very clearly proves all is not well in this project.
But, Edappadi government seems to be bent upon implementing it.
Read the first and second part of the series here.