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Activist Piyush Manush protests road projects, held for 'instigating enmity'

Chennai: Environmental activist Piyush Manush from Salem was arrested by the police on Monday for protesting against the expansion of Salem airport and the proposed eight-lane Chennai-Salem expressway.

The arrest came just a day after actor Mansoor Ali Khan was detained by the police for his remarks on the  Chennai-Salem expressway. Khan had reportedly said that he would not hesitate to kill officials if the project continued.

As per news reports, activist Piyush Manush was arrested for giving a 'provocative speech' inviting people to join the protests and 'instigating enmity between groups', said the police.

Salem Superintendent of Police said that Manush has been detained for questioning, but did not clarify what he was being interrogated about, or where he has been held.

Manush had brought Khan to Salem to speak to villagers regarding the project. On Sunday, Manush criticised Khan's arrest in a Facebook post and on Monday he was detained by the police.

Addressing the media, senior minister and AIADMK spokesperson D Jayakumar said, “All should abide by the law. The government will not remain quiet if somebody talks in a way that may incite or propogate violence."

Environmentalists are afraid that the proposed eight-lane Chennai-Salem expressway will lead to loss of livelihood as well as become a major threat to the ecosystem in the area. Farmers, too, are not willing to offer their land as they claim the compensation being offered is well below the market rate.

Locals and activists also stress on the fact that the two cities are anyway well-connected and the new project will only cut short the distance by a mere 50 km. They say that damaging the area's fragile ecosystem is not worth it. However, the National Highway Authority of India (NHAI) counters this claim by saying that the expressway will 'eliminate bottlenecks and reduce travel time between Chennai and Salem'.
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