Residents of three villages have apprehension of displacement
The alignment of a four-lane highway proposed on the Madurai-Paramakudi has met with opposition from villagers of Silaiman, Puliyankulam and Viraganoor, who want the National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) to change it so that residential areas are not affected.
With the residents of these villages not allowing the revenue authorities to conduct the survey, Virudhunagar MP B. Manickam Tagore, under whose constituency these villages fall, inspected the three places along with NHAI Project Director M. Muthudayar on Saturday.
Under the Rs. 685-crore project, the NHAI has proposed to lay a four-lane highway between Madurai and Paramakudi and a two lanes with paved shoulders between Paramakudi and Ramanathapuram. The toll-road would be laid on build, operate and transfer (BOT) concept for which the process of tender finalisation and land acquisition are under way.
The villagers complained that their land and houses in the villages were their only source of livelihood. “We have built these houses with our life-time savings,” cried a woman who fell on the feet of the MP. “We chose to build our houses much away from the present Madurai-Rameswaram highway alignment. But, still, officials say it will be demolished to lay the four-lane road,” a man complained.
Mr. Muthudayar said that bypass roads, for 39 km in the 115-km stretch of road, has been proposed off Silaiman, Tirupuvanam, Tirupachethi, Paramakudi, and Ramanathapuram.
Vice-Chairman of Tirupparankundram Panchayat Union A. Ramakrishnan said that the villages were sandwiched in a narrow stretch between the Vaigai river and the railway line. “The highway winds through with sharp curves within this narrow stretch. If you try to straighten the road while widening, many of the houses will be affected,” he said.
The residents wanted the NHAI to change the alignment of the bypass road for Silaiman and lay it away from the residential areas of Silaiman, Puliyankulam and Viraganoor, south of the railway line.
After inspection, Mr. Tagore said that he would take up the issue with Union Surface Transport Minister C.P. Joshi. “The cabinet has already approved the project. Any re-alignment proposed now will have to be cleared by the Union Planning Commission as it involved cost escalation. This process will delay the implementation of the project. But, the question is whether to displace 250 families or spend an additional Rs. 20 crore for a new alignment,” he said.