Allowing Chennai Metro Rail Ltd (CMRL) to locate its headquarters at Nandanam on a nine-acre plot of land, the Madras High Court on Thursday imposed a set of conditions, including that CMRL should pay Rs.50 crore as compensation for the relocation of a poultry research institution to an alternative site.

The First Bench, comprising Chief Justice M.Y. Eqbal and Justice T.S. Sivagnanam, dismissed three writ petitions that challenged the acquisition of land, which belonged to the Tamil Nadu Veterinary and Animal Sciences University (TANUVAS) and housed the Institute of Poultry Production and Management (IPPM).

““It cannot be disputed that Metro Rail is the only solution to mitigate traffic congestion and air pollution. In our considered opinion, the decision taken by the respondents (the State government, CMRL and TANUVAS) to shift the existing facilities available to the Institute of Poultry Production and Management is in the larger interest of the common public, who will be benefited through this Metro Rail Project,” the Bench observed.

It took note of the submission by the government and the TANUVAS that 30 acres of land had been allotted in Madhavaram Dairy to re-establish IPPM facilities there.

Allowing the project to be completed on the land in question, the Bench said CMRL shall pay compensation of Rs. 50 crore for the purpose of establishment of the IPPM with all modern facilities. The poultry research facility shall be completed within six months.

All endeavours shall be made to retain all the trees on the site, and only that fell in the core operational zone shall be cut, the Bench said. It noted the government's submission that only 28 trees would have to be cut in the operational area and added that as per its undertaking, CMRL “shall prepare an environment management plan for this location and ensure that the ecological balance is maintained”.

The Bench made it clear that the land acquired should not be used for housing any entertainment hall or activities such as film shooting or property development. The acquired land should not be used for any commercial purposes for the benefit of private corporate houses. The utilisation should be limited to the basic requirements and amenities like having Chamiers Road Station with entry-exit facilities, multi-modal traffic integration with adequate parking facilities, back-up operational control centre and maintenance operator headquarters.

“All endeavours shall be made by CMRL and the Forest Department to protect wild animals, if any, including deer, for translocating them to the nearest forest reserve,” the court said. A separate arrangement shall be made for the improved varieties of birds maintained at the poultry management institute. In case of any damage to the birds, incubators or any equipment, during the shifting process, CMRL should pay adequate damages as assessed by the competent authority, the Bench said.