The highways department on Saturday retrieved around 15,000 sq ft of its land abutting the East Coast Road at Thiruvanmiyur after demolishing a row of shops.

An earth mover pulled down the building housing the shops after a court ruled in favour of the department. The cost of the land is estimated to be around Rs. 15 crore.

“This is part of a drive to remove encroachments on our roads. Even recently, encroachments on Poonamallee High Road were removed. We have identified around 300 encroachments only on ECR and wherever possible, they are removed. A few months ago around 3,000 sq ft of land was retrieved,” said a department source.

Most encroachments occur on the Highways’ roads due to the fact that the roads were laid either as a single- or two-lane facility to accommodate traffic at a given point of time. “Though more land was available, the road width was restricted to two lanes. It was only in 2002-04 that ECR was widened with four lanes,” the source said.

Last year in June, the State government issued revised administrative sanction to acquire land to widen the 10.5 km-long road from Thiruvanmiyur to Akkarai into a six-lane facility. It had sanctioned Rs. 354 crore to compensate nearly 700 property owners in six revenue villages. The road’s width varies between 50 feet and 80 feet.

Land acquisition is at various stages in different villages and is likely to take another year to be completed. The widening is necessary to prevent accidents on the highly urbanised stretch.

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