Chief Minister Edappadi K. Palaniswami claimed in the Assembly on Monday that though one section of the public welcomed the proposal for establishing the Chennai-Salem green corridor, another section was being instigated by some organisations to protest against the project.
The State government was being quite cautious in the implementation of the project, and it was holding talks with those opposing the project, Mr. Palaniswami said during a debate on the issue in the House. The green corridor was a major project for the State, he said, when the DMK raised the issue in the House and insisted that the remarks of its leader M.K. Stalin earlier in the day on the subject should find a place in the Assembly records.
During Zero Hour, Mr. Stalin raised the issue of protests against the project and urged the State government to hold talks with those who were opposing it. Later in the day, Speaker P. Dhanapal referred to Mr. Stalin’s speech and expunged certain remarks made by the DMK leader.
Soon after the debate on the demand for grants was completed and when the Chief Minister was about to commence his reply in the form of a speech, Mr. Stalin raised the issue again and urged the Speaker to retain his remarks in the Assembly records. DMK Deputy Floor Leader Duraimurugan too contended that Mr. Stalin didn’t use any unparliamentary language.
However, the Chair was not keen on revising his decision. Chief Minister Edappadi K. Palaniswami said the comments made by the DMK leader could be construed differently. Leader of the House O. Panneerselvam too supported the stand taken by the Speaker on the issue. But Mr. Stalin and his party MLAs did not accept the explanation and staged a walkout, boycotting the Chief Minister’s reply in the House.
Earlier, DMK member I. Periyasamy questioned the need for developing a green corridor between Chennai and Salem, saying priority should be given to National Highway 45.
He even alleged that the green corridor was being developed to help the private company Jindal Group, which had been eyeing the natural resources of the Kalarayan hills.
Mr. Palaniswami said attributing a motive to a project was unfair.
“We could also attribute motives to the projects implemented by former Union Minister T.R. Baalu,” he said.
Intervening during the debate, Mr. Stalin said there was a genuine concern that a total of 8,000 acres of agricultural land would be affected by the green corridor.
“The project is likely to affect the forest and hill areas, and social activists and environmentalists have launched a protest. The government should get the opinion of the people in five districts [which are covered by the proposed corridor] before implementing the project,” he said.