Work on project across the Adyar halted in 2011, requires defence ministry permission to resume

Nearly four years after the State highways department commenced work on a bridge to connect Anakaputhur municipality and Tharapakkam across the Adyar River, the project remains incomplete pending a nod from the ministry of defence. The permit is required to utilise land owned by the ministry to finish the work. 

The bridge will be of immense benefit to thousands of residents, especially during the monsoon. As of now, they have to take a circuitous route to reach the other side, said residents. They also said that the land was currently unused.

Work on the bridge began in 2009. The project, which was undertaken by the rural roads wing of the highways department, was nearly 50 per cent complete when in May 2011, a team of officials from the Indian Air Force visited the site and ordered the cessation of work.

The officials said that a piece of land on which highways officials were about to begin work to complete access to the bridge from the Anakaputhur side belonged to IAF. They said that the State government had not obtained prior approval from the ministry of defence to carry out the bridge work on its property. 

Officials of the highways department told The Hindu that they had been unaware of the land being under the jurisdiction of the ministry while designing the bridge or starting preliminary work.

They said that they have been working with officials of the revenue department of Kancheepuram district administration to acquire the piece of land and also identify and hand over alternative land, as per government norms. Revenue officials said they had identified an alternative piece of land and conducted a joint inspection of the plot along with officials from the defence ministry. State government officials are waiting for the ministry to give an ‘enter upon agreement’ so that they could complete the remaining work.  

A. Veera, a third-generation resident of Anakaputhur, said that the land was acquired by the Indian Air Force during the 1950s to construct a sump to store water sourced from wells and the river. Water collected in the sump would be transported to the IAF Station in Tambaram. “The river used to be cleaner then,” Mr. Veera said. 

A retired official of Tamil Nadu Water Supply and Drainage Board said that once the Alandur – Tambaram comprehensive water supply scheme was implemented in the mid- 1980’s, the Anakaputhur sump and well were abandoned by IAF. The quality of water in the Adyar river had also dipped by then.

Since then, the open piece of land has neither been put to use by the Ministry nor has it been of any use to the municipality or residents. Highways officials said the original estimated sanctioned cost for the bridge was Rs. 3.9 crore and it would only increase due to the delay.

Defence ministry officials did not respond to attempts to contact them.

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