Land acquisition still underway for project scheduled for completion in February

With not even 50 per cent of work completed so far, the new road over bridge (ROB) coming up across the Railway level crossing at Crawford in the city is also likely to overshoot its scheduled completion in mid-February, joining the list of several other projects that have overrun deadlines in the city over the past few years.

The project, which commenced in April 2011, has been moving at a tardy pace, much to the resentment of thousands of residents in Crawford, Edamalaipattipudur and scores of other colonies.

Residents of these areas have been made to suffer a lot over the past two years on account of the closure of the Crawford Road, to facilitate the construction of the bridge that connects the Railway Junction and the Madurai Highway. Commuters, including school children have been forced to take a detour through a temporary alternative road via Anbu Nagar and more importantly they have been cut from direct access to public transport.

The ROB was sanctioned at a cost of Rs.28.58 crore, excluding the Railways’ contribution for the bridge portion over the level crossing. About Rs.5.50 crore was earmarked for land acquisition and shifting of utilities. Neither the land acquisition process nor shifting of utilities has been completed yet.

According to sources, 25 of the 44 piers for the four-lane bridge have been constructed so far. Pending the completion of land acquisition, shifting of utility lines such as electricity, sewage and drinking water lines are yet to be carried out fully.

Residents’ ire

Currently work is underway on laying alternative drinking water mains on one side. However, a couple of huge trenches dug up for the purpose has drawn the ire of the local residents as they almost brought traffic to a standstill during the recent rain. The residents even resorted to a symbolic agitation to plant seedlings on the slush. Residents demand the immediate closure of the trenches.

“The project has been moving at a sluggish pace. With the required lands yet to be acquired even the electricity poles have not been shifted. We also understand that the underground sewage lines are yet to be shifted. Residents of the region have been facing much hardship due to the tardy progress of the work,” says H.Ghouse Baig, a resident and secretary of the Golden Rock branch of the Consumer Protection Council, Tamil Nadu. He appealed to the District Collector to make an inspection of the site and expedite the work.

Given the extent of the inter-departmental coordination involved, the project in all likelihood would suffer a time overrun. Nevertheless, sources in the Highways Department said that the land acquisition process and shifting of utilities were underway simultaneously. All efforts are being made to complete the project by March, they added. But this, given the ground realities, could be a tall order.

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