Service lanes are likely to be laid on the city stretches of the Tiruchi-Thanjavur National Highway (NH-67), which is currently being expanded into a four-lane highway by the National Highways Authority of India, following the intervention of Transport Minister K.N. Nehru.

Mr. Nehru has instructed the district administration to initiate steps for acquiring the necessary land for laying the service lanes between Ariyamangalam Palpannai and Thuvakudi, a 14.5-km stretch on the outskirts of the city.

Though the NHAI usually provides service lanes on either side of the highways that are being four-laned, the Tiruchi-Thanjavur Highway was being laid without service lanes along the urban stretches, provoking an angry reaction from residents of Tiruverambur region.

Service lanes could not be laid owing to non-availability of lands in the highway stretch in Tiruchi district. An initial proposal for land acquisition on urban stretch of the highway in the district, between Ariyamangalam and Thuvakudi, was dropped owing to stiff opposition from local traders.

he road stretch runs along the most industrialised segment of the district and is highly urbanised, with a large number of shops, industrial units and residential colonies.

The 56-km stretch of the highway is being four-laned at a cost of about Rs.280 crore on build-operate-transfer basis.

Pointing out that the absence of service lanes would put local residents and motorists to high risk, residents of several colonies along the highway have come together to launch a campaign to mobilise public support in favour of laying service lanes which were mandatory as per NHAI rules.

Land to be acquired

Taking cognisance of the simmering discontent among the people, Mr. Nehru on Monday convened a meeting with officials of the district administration and the NHAI to discuss the issue. With land already being available for a stretch of about four km, Mr. Nehru instructed the district officials to initiate steps to acquire the required lands for the remaining 10 km. The estimates for the acquisition would be prepared and forwarded to the Centre through the State Government, Mr. Nehru said.

He assured to get in touch with Union Minister for Road Transport and Highways to get the clearance for laying the service lanes. He requested the NHAI officials to draw up proposals for laying the service lanes and for construction of drainages on both sides of the highway. He appealed to the residents to extend their full cooperation to the authorities in completing the project at the earliest.

T. Soundiah, Collector; K.N. Sekaran, Tiruverambur MLA; V. Dakshinamurthy, District Revenue Officer; A. Athipathi, Project Director, NHAI, Thanjavur; M. Meenakshi, Project Director, NHAI, Tiruchi; S. Sujatha, Mayor; T.T. Balsamy, Corporation Commissioner; and other officials attended the meeting.

Later Mr. Soundiah briefed representatives of the Federation of Ellakudi Townships Welfare Association, which has been spearheading the campaign seeking service lanes along the highway, on the decisions taken at the meeting convened by Mr. Nehru.