More changes have been proposed to the Mass Rapid Transit System (MRTS) alignment between Velachery and St. Thomas Mount.
“In order to integrate the three railway lines at the St. Thomas Mount station — suburban, MRTS and Metro — and facilitate better passenger transfer, the alignment has to be revised,” said Susan Mathew, Vice-Chairperson, Chennai Metropolitan Development Authority (CMDA).
“The alignment is almost fixed and the work for a length of 3.6 km of the stretch has begun. The last part of about 1.4 km leading up to the St. Thomas Mount Station will commence after the State government acquires the land and hands it over to us.” explained R. Ramanathan, Chief Administrative Officer (CN & MTP).
“The list of properties to be acquired will be finalised by the end of July and the final alignment will be notified for public objections, if any,” added Ms. Mathew.
The alignment between Velachery and St. Thomas Mount has been changed many times now. These regular changes have caused hardships to residents, particularly those living in Tillai Ganga Nagar, Jeevan Nagar and Tiruvalluvar Nagar.
“This is not the first time changes have been made to this part of the MRTS alignment. It is the third time we hear about changes. Based on the earlier assurances that our properties will not be affected, we had built our houses. But they change the alignment every few years and every time a new set of people are affected,” Lakshmi Narasimhan, resident of the Tillai Nagar said. In 1983, S. Ekambaram, a 76-year-old retired TNEB engineer, was given written clarification by the CMDA that his property in Tillai Ganga Nagar will not be affected by the MRTS as it was not on the alignment line.
C.S. Rangavittal, aged 74, a retired Deputy Chief Post Master, too got a similar assurance. Based on the assurances, they had built their homes. However, after 18 years, in 2001, they, along with a few other residents in Tillai Ganga Nagar, were informed that the alignment was changed and the list of properties cleared earlier will not hold good anymore.
In 2001, the CMDA proposed a realignment of the MRTS and combined it with Inner Ring Road because it faced difficulties with land acquisition. It was accepted in 2006 by the State government and an order confirming the changes was passed. About 186 ha of land that was frozen from development till then were released.
Residents who bought properties or built houses based on the 2006 government order were surprised to note that the alignment was not finalised but changed further.
This time, the changes had to be made because the Department of Highways deviated from the approved alignment of Inner Ring Road without consulting the CMDA or the Metropolitan Transport Project (MTP - Railways).
This deviation, according to minutes of the special meeting convened by the CMDA in April 2010, ‘has caused acute problems for the MTP (Railways) to stick to their alignment.' The Department of Highways was asked to explain the reasons for this.
The deviation of the MRTS alignment is only in the order of 15 m, claims the CMDA officials.
However, this has necessitated more changes to the alignment and the shift has affected a new set of people who were earlier informed that their properties would not be affected.
After receiving a representation from the residents, the MTP (Railways) wrote a letter to the CMDA in January 2010, offering to change the alignment, but the CMDA rejected it by stating that any change would create an adverse reaction and be contrary to the government order.
However, the CMDA is currently revising the MRTS alignment in order to integrate it with the Chennai Metro Rail.