Special Correspondent

Stalin expected to provide a direction at a review meet today

TIRUCHI: Speculations and controversies have bogged down the process of choosing a suitable site for establishing an integrated bus stand in the City.

Though the project had been conceived several years back, the Local Administration Minister, M.K. Stalin, during a review meeting in June last year had set a timeframe of four weeks for the civic administration to complete the site identification process.

Ever since, the issue fanned intense speculation with the land value around the short-listed sites zooming up. Controversy followed soon, with a group of farmers and social activists opposing the idea of locating the bus stand at Devadhanam, one of the five sites identified by the Corporation. They argued that the site, off the Chennai By-pass Road, was too close to the river Cauvery. The heavy traffic volume, the expected mushroom growth of commercial establishments and movement of thousands of commuters would cause heavy pollution to the river, it was contended.

The previous Government's decision to reject the site on the grounds that the area was flood prone was also cited frequently.

A section of these activists have demanded that the Defence lands at Mannarpuram be acquired for the purpose. Some suggested that expanding the existing Central Bus Stand by acquiring adjoining the Defence lands would make for an ideal integrated bus stand.

Public opinion have been divided on the other four short-listed sites - the Ariyamangalam compost yard, Ramji Nagar on the Tiruchi-Dindigul National Highway, Kottapattu on the Pudukottai National Highway and Panchapur on the Tiruchi-Madurai National Highway.

As consensus eludes the debate, Mr. Stalin is expected to provide some direction at a review meeting he is scheduled to hold in the city on Friday. All the sites have been inspected by a committee of officials, constituted on the direction of Commissioner of Municipal Administration. Though the committee's opinion would guide the decision, the views of the local Ministers and elected representatives are also likely to carry weight.

Elected representatives of the Corporation are also hoping that the Minister would give a much-needed push for infrastructure development in the City. The expansion of the Central Bus Stand, though sanctioned nearly a year back, is yet to be taken up in full swing. Proposals on shifting the wholesale section of the Gandhi Market to the Chennai By-pass road, laying a link road between the Anna Nagar Main Road and Cantonment and the widening of the Uyyakondan bridge near Cantonment have all been pending for quite some time now. The slow pace of execution of the underground drainage scheme in the City is also likely to come into sharp focus. City residents also eagerly await a decision on the Corporation's plea for reducing the Vacant Site Tax (VST).