Public notification on land acquisition gives hope to residents of areas along Tiruchi-Thanjavur National Highway

Residents living along the city stretch of the Tiruchi-Thanjavur National Highway, who have been waging a long battle seeking service lanes along the four-lane highway over the past three years, have reason to cheer.

The Union Ministry of Road Transport and Highways has issued a public notification declaring its intention to acquire land for laying service lanes on the city stretch of the highway. The notification listing the lands to be acquired has called for objections, if any, within 21 days.

Though the process of land acquisition and the subsequent laying of the service lanes are still a long way ahead, the issue of the notification by itself has gladdened residents of the locality.

“We are very happy that the notification has been issued and we expect to see the service lanes soon. Service lanes are an absolute necessity to prevent accidents on the stretch . The State government has been supportive of our demand in taking steps for the land acquisition,” said representatives of the Federation for Retrieval of Tiruchi-Palpannai-Thuvakkudi Service Roads, an umbrella organisation of residents associations, formed to fight for the cause.

The Tiruchi-Thanjavur National Highway (NH-67) was widened into a four-lane highway by the National Highways Authority of India a couple of years ago.

Although the NHAI had made provisions for laying the service lanes, they could not be built owing to non-availability of lands.

An initial proposal for land acquisition on the urban stretch of the highway in the district, between Ariyamangalam and Thuvakudi, was dropped owing to stiff opposition from local traders.

The road stretch runs along the most industrialised segment of the district and is highly urbanised with a large number of industrial units, commercial establishments, schools and residential colonies all along.

Local traders successfully lobbied with the political class to drop the land acquisition move to save their business interests.

As the four-lane highway was thrown open for traffic, residents realised the dangers of the absence of service lanes as accidents became all too frequent.

A common federation was floated and a series of agitations launched demanding the construction of the service lanes on the 14.5-km stretch between Ariyamangalam Palpannai and Thuvakudi from since 2009-10.

Political parties supported the demand although a group of traders continued to lobby against the construction of service lanes.

The traders contend that since a bypass was being laid from Thuvakudi to connect the Tiruchi-Karaikudi and Tiruchi-Madurai highway, traffic on the city stretch of the NH 67 would become thin.

However this view was strongly contested by residents.

“Even if the bypass comes up, there will not be a significant reduction in traffic. Only trucks carrying heavy equipment from BHEL and other industries will take the bypass and other vehicles such as buses and cars will continue to go via Ariyamangalam. Speeding vehicles will continue to pose a threat to thousands of students and commuters crisscrossing the roads in bicycles and two-wheelers,” said Rajendran, a resident of Kattur.

According to NHAI sources, it could still take a couple of years for the service lanes to come up after the completion of land acquisition and other procedures.