Highways Department unable to take up work at Radha Nagar despite acquisition of land

Months after the completion of work on the Radha Nagar subway in Chromepet by the Southern Railway, the Highways Department has not been able to take up its portion of the work due to the changing of stance of the residents in the area.

The box portion of the structure beneath the railway tracks near the Chromepet station has been completed and barricades placed. But the Highways, which has to take up work to connect both sides, is unable to do so as the residents have changed their mind yet again though land acquisition has been completed. There are also differences between residents in the immediate vicinity whose lands have been acquired for the project and those in surrounding areas.

The former now want the subway to be converted to a pedestrian facility, which was how the original proposal in 2000 by the two departments to replace Level crossing 27 intended it to be. But many residents, especially those in surrounding areas, objected to the proposal and wanted a vehicular subway and the Municipality too passed a resolution accordingly. The design was changed and the Railways constructed a box accordingly. However, residents whose houses will be affected, are now demanding the proposal be given up.

“It is not possible to change the design of the subway as the box structure has been constructed already. To minimise land acquisition, the width of the service lanes has been reduced,” said a source in the Highways Department.

E. Loganathan, a third-generation resident of Kollanchavady said that 42 families will lose their property. “Most of the landowners belong to poor families, living in plots measuring between 300 square feet and 400 square feet,” he said. He added that more than 50 years ago, most residents had parted with land free of cost measuring 3 to 4 feet when access along Kollanchavady towards Zamin Raayapettai was improved.

“By taking our land, our livelihoods will be completely destroyed,” said Mariamma Alex of St. Mary’s Nursery and Primary School, where 250 students, mostly from the marginalised sections study. Residents wondered why the original plan of pedestrian subway was dropped. The existing Radha Nagar Main Road was very narrow and acquisition of their property for service lanes and stormwater drains would only result in the complete take over of their houses, residents regretted.

The vehicular subway could have been shifted to the neighbouring level crossing (LC No. 26), about 100 metres away where the existing road was wide enough. Officials of the State Highways Department said the land needed for completing the subway was already in their possession and it was published in a Government Gazette last year. The residents were also informed personally.

Letters indicating the compensation amount they would be receiving had also been sent to property owners and it was no longer possible to alter the design of the subway constructed so far. Residents said they had appealed to the State government to reconsider the decision and reduce damage to their property.

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