For the last two years, the National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) has not commissioned any major project in the State and the Chennai Port-Maduravoyal elevated link road is the first major project to be stalled, said a top official.
The Rs.1,815-crore project was conceived for speedy evacuation of containers from Maduravoyal. It was stalled by the Public Works Department last year stating there was a deviation in the alignment from the approved one. Meanwhile, the contractor has demanded a compensation of nearly Rs.873 crore for delays in handing over land, idling charges and interest.
Talking to The Hindu, Vijay Chhibber, Secretary, Ministry of Road Transport and Highways, said “The project has been stopped due to a miscommunication. How can an alignment go wrong after years?
It is a good project meant to solve the congestion woes of Chennai Port. The current development will have a very big impact on the State and the country’s economy.”
Asked further, Mr. Chhibber said he was not aware why the Maduravoyal project was stalled, but added, if it was stopped due to a change in government, it would impact all the future projects including that of Chennai-Bangalore Industrial Corridor (CBIC). Contractors would think twice before taking up new projects. It would raise questions such as who would build the roads and who would take up big projects in the State.
Mentioning that Tamil Nadu is a progressive State and a preferred investment destination for investors, he said Public-Private-Partnership projects such as CBIC project should not be affected due to politics.
According to him, NHAI was feeling the heat in other States too such as Kerala, West Bengal and Orissa. In Kerala, three projects were cancelled and no bids were received for 20 projects in different parts of the country.
On the future about the Maduravoyal project, he said NHAI officials would make one more attempt to explain to the government officials about the importance of the project.
“We have suspended the work so that the contractor’s liability could be restricted. If the State government wants to take up the project, we are ready to give it to them. However, we hope the differences will be resolved soon,” he said.