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Multi-crore road project faces more delays

K. Lakshmi and
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Water lines hinder EMRIP work; NHAI blames Metrowater for not shifting them

JammedManali Oil Refinery Road is one of four roads that the Ennore-Manali Road Improvement Project is supposed to widen —Photo: S.S. Kumar
JammedManali Oil Refinery Road is one of four roads that the Ennore-Manali Road Improvement Project is supposed to widen —Photo: S.S. Kumar

A delay by Chennai Metrowater in shifting water main line running beneath Manali Oil Refinery Road (MORR), is threatening to push the deadline of the Rs. 600-crore Ennore-Manali Road Improvement Project in north Chennai.

The project envisages widening of four arterial roads in the northern neighbourhoods.

Sources at the National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) said the body had paid Metrowater to shift the line and the water agency had already laid a new line. However, the old line still carries water and residents of Sathyamurthy Nagar, Ambedkar Nagar, Jothi Nagar and Ernavur in Tiruvottiyur draw their daily supply of water from it.

NHAI sources said the main line branched off into several lines leading to residential areas, and these were above the surface of the road in three spots. They had been damaged several times when the road was dug. “We are unable to widen the 5.6 km stretch of the road. We began work in January to add 12 metres of carriageway on either side, but this has been slowed down as the lines are in the way,” the source said.

R. Jayaraman, former chairman of the erstwhile Tiruvottiyur municipality, said that these residential lines were illegal. A few years ago, when Tiruvottiyur was a municipality, it had proposed to legalise these lines and a resolution was passed to this effect. “Tenders were also finalised for the provision of three valves. However, the proposal was dropped suddenly and around 40,000 residents in these localities continue to illegally draw water,” he said.

Aside from EMRIP, there is also another project underway in the area – a Tiruvottiyur water supply scheme that Metrowater is carrying out.

Metrowater officials said the old line could not be removed or shifted until the water supply project was completed. They said that even though the new pipeline had been laid three years ago, work is still on in several areas to complete the network, and water is temporarily being supplied through the old lines to some areas such as Ezhil Nagar.

So far, 90 per cent of the 180 km-long pipeline for the new project has been laid. Nearly 75 per cent of the work to construct water distributions stations has also been finished so far. This project, worth Rs. 88 crore, is slated to be over by the end of this year.

“We are planning to suspend water supply in the old lines along MORR soon. It will cost us a huge amount to remove these lines as they are laid five feet below the road. Once the project is completed, we will not disturb the old lines,” said an official.

The implementation of EMRIP has already been delayed due to several reasons, including protests by fisherfolk in Nalla Thanneer Odai Kuppam and Cherian Nagar.

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