Coimbatore, June 30: Tamil Nadu Chief Minister K Palaniswami today denied charges that the Salem-Chennai expressway project was meant to benefit private miners, and termed it someone's "figment of imagination" to bring disgrace to the government.
"(The question) itself is a figment of the imagination, to bring bad name to the government... The project is not meant for the benefit of any individual but for the overall development of Tamil Nadu," Palaniswami told reporters at Salem Airport.
He said some people out of "political vendetta" were trying to stop the Rs 10,000-crore eight-lane project by "provoking people."
Palaniswami was responding to a query on reports that the expressway project was meant to favour private miners. Stating that the road was a central government project and the state was assisting in its implementation, he said Tamil Nadu government was taking steps to get adequate compensation to those from whom the land was acquired.
Not only Salem, but the nearby districts of Erode, Karur and Coimbatore would also progress industrially, once the road is laid, he noted. Nearly 16,214 lives have been lost on this stretch in road accidents and the state government was bound to provide a quality road to the public, using modern technology, he added.
Noting that a large expanse of land was acquired during the rule, Palaniswami said the present government was offering more compensation than that given during the DMK dispensation, as the guideline value had increased.
In view of the increasing fuel prices and considering the last six months' average, he claimed diesel prices could increase further and said the transport sector will therefore benefit from the eight-lane project, as the distance will be reduced. A lorry can save up to Rs 1,050 on diesel with reduction of distance by 60 km, which also minimizes the wear and tear, the chief minister said.
Amid opposition, Palaniswami had recently asserted in the state assembly the highway project would boost economic growth and its gains far outweighed other factors.
The 277.3-km-long eight-lane greenfield project under the Centre's 'Bharatmala Pariyojana', would stimulate growth like the Mumbai-Pune and Delhi-Agra expressway projects, he had said.