Project that covers four key roads in north Chennai is set to open in June
It has been 14 years since the project was announced but the Ennore Manali Road Improvement Project, touted to be the solution to north Chennai’s traffic woes, is many months away from completion.
With the inauguration of the project by the initial deadline of January 2013 now impossible, authorities are working day and night to ensure that it is completed by June. The delay in the scheme which involves four roads that bear much of the container traffic to Chennai Port has led to accidents and daily traffic logjams in north Chennai.
Every day, over 3,000 trailers use the four roads — Tiruvottiyur-Ponneri-Panchetti (TPP) sector, Ennore Expressway, Manali Oil Refinery Road (MORR) and northern portion of the Inner Ring Road (IRR) from Madhavaram to Manali. However, only 52% of the project has been completed. Vehicles waiting to enter the port are parked on the MORR and the IRR jamming these and other roads too.
Some of the traffic jams on these roads last for nearly four hours, said residents. “Here you can see MTC buses plying on the wrong side of the road so that they can cover as much distance as possible. Ambulance drivers say that if a vehicle gets stuck in a jam, it takes at least an hour to get out of it and sometimes their efforts go futile,” he said.
“Two days ago, there was an accident in which two youngsters were injured. In the past four years, 700 persons have died. Once the road work is over, there won’t be a single accident. Residents keep complaining that trailer drivers are careless but our drivers too do not want to get involved in accidents,” said S.R. Raja secretary, Trailer Owners Association.
The Ennore Expressway, the key part of the project, is the one most behind schedule with only 50 per cent of the project completed. The Beach Road, as it is often known, is choked with vehicles and many trailers take the Tiruvottiyur High Road instead, thus crowding it too, says M.K. Ramanan, a resident of Tiruvottiyur. Quite a few obstacles lay ahead for the completion of this segment.
The shifting of the residents of 447 houses in Nalla Thanneer Odai Kuppam and 50 houses in Cherian Nagar has been hanging fire for at least six months now. Unless the residents of these localities on the expressway are moved or are provided alternative sites, that portion of the road will remain a narrow stretch, said National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) sources.
“For NTO Kuppam, the Tamil Nadu Slum Clearance Board had issued allotment orders to the Tiruvallur District Collector under whose jurisdiction the area falls but the orders are yet to be distributed. As far as Cherian Nagar is concerned, the houses are located on a declared slum. This means, the Board must purchase the lands and hand over the sale deeds to residents. But that has not been done as yet. The residents can be provided an alternative only if they possess the deeds,” he said.
In addition, a temple of Sri Bhavani Amman has to be shifted and a water main in front of the Tiruvottiyur burial ground has to be moved. The water main of Chennai Metrowater has to be shifted to make way for a pedestrian underpass. “If the main is not shifted, the only option would be to cancel the underpass. Rs. 20 lakh has already been spent to shift 700 m length of pipeline. We have been waiting for two years now,” the NHAI source said.
Also, work in the fishing harbour has come to a standstill as fisherfolk are demanding that land be reclaimed for their wholesale market, which is being affected by the project. Chennai Port Trust sources said that the land reclamation project was being studied and advice from experts from Anna University has been sought to mark high and low tides at the site.
It took an intervention at the level of the district collector before the residents of these fishing hamlets could even be convinced to move.
On Saturday, Secretary, shipping, P.K. Sinha, Shipping Minister G.K. Vasan, along with NHAI officials, conducted a survey of two important projects EMRIP and elevated four-lane link road from Chennai Port to Maduravoyal while on their way to Ennore Port for the launch function of Dredging Corporation of India. “Some areas of concern have to be addressed by the State government. The project will be completed by June 2013 ,” Mr. Vasan said.