Japanese investors and port users have once again demanded widening of the five-km North Chennai Thermal Power Station (NCTPS) Road from Vallur junction, as the L&T Kattupalli and Ennore ports are gearing up to receive vehicles laden with containers and coal.
According to port users, the ongoing widening work of the Ennore Manali Road Improvement Project (EMRIP) up to Panchetti, coupled with container movement, is all set to hamper traffic at the junction in the coming months as it is presently a two-lane road without an alternative route.
In a year’s time, Kattupalli Port is estimated to handle one million twenty-foot equivalent units and its shipyard is getting ready. The Ennore Port plans to handle about three million tonnes of coal, 5,000 car carriers and 600 liquid carriers by road. IOC has a bottling plant on this stretch. Besides, 20 Container Freight Stations located on Tiruvottiyur-Ponneri-Panchetti Road will rely on the NCTPS Road to enter these ports as it the nearest point for them.
Sources in the Highways Department said the road could not be widened as the State Electricity Board was unwilling to part with it, though they had agreed to hand it over to the department a couple of years ago.
“Besides, they do not have funds to meet the expansion cost. It is better to hand it over to the Highways Department as agreed a meeting chaired by the then Chief Secretary,” they said.
Incidentally, the EMRIP was launched to facilitate easy movement of containers to Chennai Port from the Madhavaram Junction. But vehicles used to pile up at the Manali junction, Manali Oil Refinery Road, Outer Ring Road and Ernavur junction due to increasing traffic on the narrow stretch.
Japanese investors have urged the State government to provide better roads and bridges on these stretches, as they have to bring in heavy equipment.
When contacted Secretary, State Highways, T.K. Ramachandran, said they were in the process of developing a road parallel to TPP Road through Ennore creek. However, NHAI officials said the proposed road was not conducive for container movement as it passes through a heavily populated settlement.
Talking to The Hindu, a State government official said, “We will conduct a meeting with the Chief Secretary on their demand as it would benefit the users of L&T and Ennore ports. We were told that expansion could not be taken up due to hurdles in shifting pipelines and utilities. However, if it benefits the trade, we will certainly look into it.”
“We are ready to expand our road into three lanes from the NCTPS premises to the main entrance, and the balance 2.5 km road has to be widened by L&T,” an Ennore Port official said.
Keywords: road widening project