The Madras High Court on Friday refused to pass an interim order restraining the Tamil Nadu government from acquiring land for the greenfield Chennai-Salem expressway, The Hindu reported. It also posted a writ petition filed by an affected land owner and related pleas before a division bench.

The Rs 10,000-crore expressway project has faced massive opposition, especially from farmers, as thousands of hectares of agricultural land and several hectares of forest land – cutting across five districts and eight reserved forests – have to be acquired.

On June 28, the Madras High Court issued notices to the Centre and the state government on a plea against the acquisition of land for the proposed Chennai-Salem expressway project, PTI reported.

The petition, by the non-profit Poovulagin Nanbargal (friends of earth), asked for the acquisition process to be stopped. The plea said the authorities had started the acquisition process under the National Highways Act, 1956, without receiving objections from those likely to be affected by it.

Advocate General Vijay Narayan told the court that the landowners would benefit from the compensation up to four times the value of the land. On behalf of the Centre, Additional Solicitor General G Rajagopalan said the petitioner had no locus standi in the matter.

The petition also sought that Section 105 of the Right to Fair Compensation and Transparency in Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement Act, 2013, be struck down. The plea said that while the legislation envisages a “humane” process of land acquisition, Section 105 allows the government to not acquire land for some uses in this manner – for example, land acquired under the National Highway Act. The Section 105 “perpetuates discriminatory treatment” of land-owners, and should be declared null and void, the plea said.

Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Edappadi K Palaniswami had said only a minuscule percentage of farmers had opposed the acquisition of land for the proposed 277-km Chennai-Salem eight-lane expressway.