The State Finance Minister, O. Panneerselvam's announcement on Monday regarding the launch of northern port access road brought cheer to Port users of Chennai and Ennore as they have had to constantly use bad roads to move consignments that often lead to collision and congestion.

While the southern part of the city has been getting due attention, the northern part was totally neglected by the officials, said port users. The Ennore Manali Road Improvement Project (EMRIP), announced a decade ago, is yet to be completed.

Currently, the business community is using the two-lane southern port access road that links Athipattu with North Chennai Thermal Power Station. Even users of the newly formed private port at Kattupalli Port had to use this stretch. The other alternative would be the northern port access road.

Talking to The Hindu, a top State government official said the proposal of the northern port access (NPA) road was still on the drawing board. Land acquisition would not be a problem, as most of it is uninhabited. The Tamil Nadu Industrial Development Corporation (TIDCO) would take up the acquisition for development of industrial estate and road. The project might be given to National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) for development.

Keeping in mind the congestion issue that hampered the growth of Chennai Port, Ennore Port officials have requested Southern Railway to form a new rail link that runs parallel to NPA road. The rail link would be 26 km in length whereas the northern port would be 21 km in length connecting Ennore Port with Thatchur.

According to the sources, NPA road would have 100 metres right of way. Initially, it would be a four-lane facility and later expanded to six-lane. Ennore Port has suggested that Tiruvottiyur-Ponneri-Panchetti (TPP) Road be linked with the NPA road through a loop of about 4.5 km. It has also requested for the extension of NPA road from Ennore Port gate to the proposed coal/iron ore terminals.

Meanwhile, the State government on Monday also announced that Phase II of the Outer Ring Road from Nemilichery to Minjur will be implementing using its own funds. The Finance Minister said that 30.2 km long facility would be developed on a Design, Build, Finance, Operate and Transfer (DBFOT) model and the work is expected to commence very soon.

The earlier proposal was to utilise external funds. The tendering process for the proposed phase II is on and over 95 per cent of acquisition of private lands has been completed.

“We are hopeful of commencing container terminals operations from June 2014 and we will be happy if the road becomes a reality by that time. We hope EMRIP would be ready by September. The commissioning of ORR phase-II would provide seamless connectivity from Minjur to Vandalur,” said EPL chairman-cum-managing director, S. Velumani.

The ORR was one of the three major ring roads – inner ring road, intermediate ring road and outer ring road -- approved by the Chennai Metropolitan Development Authority way back in 1975 in its First Master Plan. However, various factors including land acquisition have delayed the project.

Phase I of the Rs. 1081.40 crore project from Vandalur to Nemilichery is under way and is expected to be completed by November this year. Formation of roads in the form of grids or ring roads helps decongest the city and also aid development along the new formations.

(With inputs from Deepa H Ramakrishnan)

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