Chennai Port Trust (ChPT) officials on Tuesday asked the Chennai Fishing Harbour Management Committee to evacuate encroachers, who have been delaying the commencement of road widening at zero gate.

According to official sources, the widening of the 1.6 km road from S.N. Chetty Street to zero gate was delayed as it was encroached upon by a group of people.

Incidentally, this stretch of the road forms a vital link connecting Tiruvottiyur with the harbour main gate, and subsequently gets extended up to Ponneri and Panchetti.

To expedite the Ennore Manali Road Improvement Project, ChPT came forward and constructed 146 fishing stalls after enumeration. But they were lying vacant as the fishermen were not ready to occupy them. At this point, Speaker D. Jayakumar, representing Royapuram constituency, stepped in and brought various stakeholders to the negotiation table.

During the first review meeting on March 14, the fishermen accepted the proposal and sought 42 more stalls. Immediately, a second list was prepared and given to ChPT officials. So far, 120 out of 146 fishermen have been given allotment letters and subsequently they agreed to move out of the existing place by Friday.

ChPT officials have also written to the Collector to assist the Chennai Fishing Harbour Management Committee in evacuating encroachers. The Collector in turn has written to the Police Commissioner to ensure that it does not create a law and order problem.

A hand bill being circulated by the Fishing Harbour Management Committee since Saturday urges all those who have been allotted fishing stalls to move out before Friday.

Otherwise, as per the advice of the National Highways Authority of India, the encroachers would be evicted with the help of police.

Talking to The Hindu, a ChPT official said “We have given them enough time. We have to act fast as the deadline for completing the EMRIP is fast approaching. If they fail to keep their word, then we will have to use police force.”

Meanwhile, ChPT has awarded the contract to a private party to construct a modern facility at zero gate with eight gates on the lines of a toll plaza. The contractor is expected to commence work within the next few weeks. Subsequently, gate no. 10 opposite the War Memorial is also being widened into a four-lane road.

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