More than 1,000 take to streets to protest slow work
A 1,000-strong crowd, comprising residents and traders, took to the streets in protest against the delay in completion of Moolakadai flyover bringing traffic on Chennai–Kolkota Highway (NH 5) to a standstill for nearly two hours on Wednesday.
Around 10 a.m. on Wednesday, residents and members of Moolakadai Traders Association assembled at the intersection of GNT Road and Madhavaram High Road that connects Madhavaram and Perambur and raised slogans against the government and the State highways department, the executive agency of the multi-crore flyover project.
“The service lanes on either side of the under-construction flyover are sandy and pothole-ridden making it difficult for motorists to use the stretch. We are not against development but it should not be at the cost of basic facilities,” said general secretary of North Chennai Traders Association, M. Mani.
The protesters dispersed more than two hours later after talks between agitated protesters and State highways officials.
More than 500 traders, mostly petty shopkeepers, operate at Moolakadai junction. Every day, hundreds of vehicles, especially container lorries from the neighbouring States use the stretch to reach Chennai Port. Motorists from the western and northern parts of the city too take the road to reach the main city.
Ever since work on the flyover began, the bitumen-topped highway had turned into a sandy stretch making it difficult for motorists and pedestrians, especially schoolchildren, to use the service lanes, the protesters said.
During monsoon, the stretch would become slushy. “Each week, on an average, at least two fatal accidents happen at the Moolakadai junction, mainly due to the condition of the service lanes — the lone pathway available for motorists and MTC buses,” said a police officer.
Sanctioned under the Chennai Metropolitan Development Programme (CMDP), the Rs. 49.55-crore flyover will be 613 metres long and 10 metres wide, with each bitumen-topped service lane measuring 7.5 metres wide.
The four-lane flyover, work on which began in January 2011, is expected to accommodate around 11,000 passenger car units per hour during peak hours and will connect busy areas like Madhavaram and Perambur.
The project has suffered delays for various reasons including difficulties in land acquisition. It was only in October 2012 the State highways was able to acquire 4,102 sq. m. of land after paying a compensation of Rs. 9 crore to affected parties.
So far, only 30 per cent of the work has been completed. Despite the State highways paying Rs. 3.5 crore to Metrowater to relocate sewer lines along the project area, the work hasn’t begun.
“All day and night, there is heavy traffic on this stretch making it difficult for us to lay service lanes,” said a State highways official, adding the work on the service lanes would be completed in a month.