Twenty-five-year-old M.S. Jawahar who works in an engineering firm struggles to commute from Tiruvottiyur to Adyar every day.

“The buses are extremely crowded during the peak hours and their timings are also erratic. It’s quite a journey for me, every day. If the Metro Rail comes up, I would at least get to Central without any hassle,” he said.

Though a grand plan has been chalked out for phase-II of Chennai Metro Rail, there is no word as yet on the extension of phase-I from Washermenpet to Wimco Nagar.

The soil tests for this 9-km stretch in Tiruvottiyur were completed in 2010, and, subsequently, the State cabinet gave its nod. However, for three years now, the project is awaiting clearance from the Central government.

The extension was planned on the premise of phase-I having nearly sidelined north Chennai, with the exception of Mannady and Washermenpet.

Ideally, before one phase is completed, work on the second phase should begin, say experts. “There should not be such a long gap. There is a dire need to cover the northern portion of the city with Metro Rail and augment the public transport facilities there,” N.S. Srinivasan, former director, National Transportation Planning and Research Centre, said.

At least two lakh people, from areas like Toll Gate, Tondiarpet and Tiruvottiyur will be hugely benefitted if this stretch gets operational, said A. Thuyamurthy of the North Chennai Rail Passenger Association. “These areas are so densely populated, but not served well enough. If this extension becomes a reality, it may greatly help in improving mobility and also in reducing traffic congestion,” he said

With no sign of clearance for this project from the Central government, sources say that unless there is pressure from the State, it may not take off anytime soon. “We have not received any communication regarding this project. We just know it was referred to the Planning Commission sometime back,” an official of Chennai Metro Rail Limited said.