Chennai: The Madras High Court today quashed the state government order restraining implementation of the Kochi-Mangalore gas pipeline project passing through agricultural lands in seven districts of Tamil Nadu.

The Gas Authority of India Limited had challenged the state government notification asking it to stop placing pipelines in agricultural lands and implement the project by laying them along National Highways.

The First Bench, comprising Chief Justice Rajesh Kumar Agrawal and Justice M Sathyanarayanan, today allowed the petition filed by GAIL seeking a direction to quash the order.

The court had in September reserved orders on the plea.

The project involves laying of pipelines across districts in Kerala, Tamil Nadu and Karnataka.

GAIL had first moved the court seeking a direction to Collectors and Superintendents of Police of seven districts in Tamil Nadu to provide protection enabling them to carry out the works.

However, the court observed that such direction cannot be issued as it did not want to create a situation as it happened in Nandigram and Singur villages of West Bengal and instead suggested conducting public hearings.

After public hearings were held, government issued a notification on April 2 stating that pipelines could be laid along National Highways without affecting agricultural lands and to remove all pipelines laid in agricultural lands, which was challenged by GAIL.

A single judge then passed an interim stay directing not to remove the pipelines already laid and government moved the court to vacate it.

The government submitted that the project could be implemented by laying the pipelines along National Highways without affecting agricultural lands.

Some 300 km of the pipeline project passes through Coimbatore, Tirupur, Salem, Erode, Namakkal, Dharmapuri and Krishnagiri districts of Tamil Nadu.

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