The Nedunchalai (NH-68) Pathikkapatta Vivasayigal Nala Sangam (an association of agriculturists affected by national highways project) has moved the Madras High Court alleging bribery, in Salem district, for a higher compensation for their land that was acquired for widening the Ulundurpet-Salem national highway.

In the petition, the organisation’s president, R. Gopalakrishnan, said land and houses on both sides of the existing highway were acquired for widening the carriageway. Because of this project, the association members lost their land, houses and wells. A meagre compensation was paid. The members sought enhanced compensation.

The petitioner alleged that in Salem district, a retired tahsildar and a sub-collector had been entrusted with the arbitration proceedings. Bribe was being demanded for fixing an increased compensation, he said. The association requested the Court to transfer all the claim petitions pending before the Salem collector to some other district collector or to appoint retired district judges as arbitrators.

When the matter came up before Justice K.K. Sasidharan, the petition was adjourned to Friday. He said the competent authority and the special DRO, Salem and Villupuram (land acquisition), NH, be included as parties.

He directed the government to study if the association’s applications could be transferred to nearby district collectors to carry out inquiries into the allegations.

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