People want clear details of properties that will be affected
TAMBARAM: At the first public hearing for Chennai Metro Rail here on Monday, residents welcomed the Rs. 9,757-crore project and urged officials to be transparent, accessible and specific about the routes. They wanted to know about properties that would be affected by the project.
The residents wanted the sketch of the routes to be made public. The public hearing was held at A.J.S. Nidhi School in Alandur and at the CPWD Quarters in Ashok Nagar.
V. Srinivasan, a 64-year-old resident of Indra Colony, Ashok Nagar, said the presentations on environmental impact assessment of the project were not relevant if the residents were kept in the dark about the fate of property they owned. “We wholeheartedly welcome, appreciate and support the project. But just tell us whether our houses would be saved or taken for the project,” he said.
C. Pushparani, another resident from Ashok Nagar, said residents were spending sleepless nights ever since news about the project started coming in. V. Ravichandran, founder-chairman of Citizens’ Guardian, urged authorities to work in tandem with government agencies, including Chennai Metrowater. He also underscored the need for successful integration of the Metro with the existing bus and suburban train network.
Chennai Metro Rail Limited (CMRL) officials said the Vadapalani station would be located about 100 metres away from the Arcot Road-Inner Ring Road intersection. They said the alignment of the route of the two corridors — Washermenpet to Chennai Airport and Fort to St. Thomas Mount — would be finalised by the end of June.
They also sought support from the public during the implementation of the project as the process of construction may impede movement on the roads. On implementation, however, the Metro would hugely reduce the strain on the city’s roads and drastically cut vehicular emissions.
At the public hearing in Alandur, K. Surya Kumar, a resident, said information on the specific locations were missing. “None of us know whether our property would be used for the project,” he said. The residents of the area demanded that sketches of the project’s alignment, with specific references in their localities and survey numbers of land that needed to be acquired should be displayed in Alandur Municipality.
K. Srinivas, a former engineer with the Highways Research Station, questioned the idea behind a Metro Rail link between St. Thomas Mount and Koyambedu, as there was a proposal to extend the Mass Rapid Transit System between these two places.
“You cannot make alterations at Kathipara where a grade separator is nearing completion. ,” Mr. Srinivas asked.
CMRL Chairman Syed Munir Hoda said there would be no “duplication” and explained that the MRTS and Metro Rail would not “clash.” . He added: “MRTS between St. Thomas Mount and Koyambedu has been shelved.”
“Only 90 families and a total of just 380 people would be affected [by the project],” Mr. Hoda said.
Other suggestions from the participants included bringing Tambaram, Porur and the Chennai Trade Centre in Nandambakkam in the project, easy access for the residents to information and officials and more such interactions.
During the presentation on the project, officials said 385 trees had to be felled for the project, of which 307 were along the Fort-St. Thomas Mount corridor. The total extent of land needed to be acquired was 186.63 acres. Of the permanent requirement of 160.55 acres, 140 acres was government land .
A comprehensive and elaborate compensation and rehabilitation package has been chalked out for those who would lose their land and buildings. Private negotiations would be used to arrive at the compensation amount that would be based on prevailing market rates.
For those living below the poverty line and who would be affected by land acquisition, measures would be taken in association with the Tamil Nadu Slum Clearance Board. Those who would lose their shops would be given preference in allotment of shops at the underground stations. The actual groundwork on the project is expected to start towards the end of this year.
The public consultation would be held at other venues on Tuesday and Wednesday.