The four-lane highway from Madurai (Virahanoor to Paramakudi) is taking shape with a revised plan. According to sources, the National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) officials and Virudhunagar Congress MP Manicka Tagore inspected the proposed points at Virahanoor, Silaiman and Puliankulam on Saturday.

The 115-km highway, to be developed at an estimated cost of a whopping Rs.820 crore, would have bypass stretches at Silaiman, Tiruppuvanam, Tirupachethi and Paramakudi, which alone would run to 40 km.

When the plan was prepared in 2006 in the Build-Operate-Transfer mode, it was turned down as unviable, sources said. As there was hue and cry from the residents of Virahanoor, Silaiman and Puliankulam, where around 500 dwellings had to be razed down, the ambitious road project was put in cold storage.

However, in May 2012, after the trade and industry associations from many southern districts represented to the Government of India to reconsider the plan, Mr.Manicka Tagore assured to impress upon the Union Surface Transport Ministry in this regard.

The NHAI engineers prepared an alternative route plan with a slight deviation of 3.5 km from the original alignment and obtained necessary approval from the Union Ministry. Now, the revised plan, which implies no damage to houses and commercial establishments at Viraganoor, Silaiman and Puliankulam, has got the official nod. As the news spread, the residents in these villages heaved a sigh of relief and thanked the MP and the officials, sources said.

When contacted, Mr.Tagore said the slight deviation between Viraganoor and Silaiman would not affect the hamlets on the stretch, but it would cost an additional Rs.40 crore in the total estimate.

Out of the 48 villages dotting the Viraganoor-Paramakudi stretch, 45 had already been notified for the project. For the three villages left out, the process of notification will begin soon. When land acquisition was completed in the three villages, tendering process would begin, sources said, and added that in all probability the work would commence in January 2014. It would be completed in two years, they added.

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