Virudhunagar is perhaps the only district in the entire State where even spadework for a road overbridge (ROB) is yet to take off while the construction of 14 ROBs taken up simultaneously or much later in other districts were completed and thrown open to the public on Monday.
In fact, the ROB at Eachaneri in Coimbatore was completed six months ahead of schedule. In the case of ROBs in Tenkasi, Tirupparankundram, Manapaarai and Dindigul, though there was some delay, the work had been completed.
But the work for an overbridge on Ramamoorthy Road here across the manned railway level crossing 403, mooted in 2008 for a distance of 609.61 metres with 264.55 metres on the western side, 320.41 metres on the eastern side and 24.65 metres being the railway portion, is mired in tangles, both political and legal.
Based on the recommendation of the Cabinet, which included the then local MLA and Minister for Welfare of Backward Classes, K.K.S.S.R. Ramachandran, the then Chief Minister, M. Karunanidhi, approved the project and the then Governor, Surjit Singh Barnala, issued a Government Order on October 3, 2008 and a sum of Rs.20 crore was allocated.
The Southern Railway too conducted a feasibility study, found it viable.
Meanwhile, there was a change of guard in the Fort St. George. The AIADMK government took efforts for land acquisition.
But the former Minister Ramachandran fired the first salvo by publicly stating that the AIADMK government had taken up construction of the ROB in order to demolish his property. He felt that an underbridge could be constructed instead of an overbridge and filed a writ petition in the Madurai Bench of Madras High Court seeking an order to quash the acquisition proceedings.
Meanwhile, the Virudhunagar Nagar Nala Amaippu, led by Dr. S. M. Rathinavel, convened a consultative meeting to know gather the views of the public.
It is interesting to recall that the local MLA R. Pandiarajan of the DMDK openly sought construction of the road overbridge and put it as the first item of his 10-point charter of demands when he met the Chief Minister a few months ago. As there seems to be no end to the legal battle, the general public are keeping their fingers crossed. They are subjected to a lot of hardship every day as the the gate has to be closed for six hours collectively in a day to enable over 50 passenger and goods trains cross this junction.
Students, office-goers and daily wage workers are the worst hit. As three to four trains cross this junction in a gap of 10 minutes during morning and evening hours, the gate remains closed for at least half an hour at a stretch.
Moreover, patients visiting the Government Hospital or private hospitals have to wait. Very few take the option of going through the Aruppukottai road overbridge, a circuitous route.
In fact, Mr. Thanigaivel Murugan, in-charge of running the 108 ambulance service in this district, told The Hindu that he had instructed his men to avoid this Ramamoorthy Road to reach the GH. But not all can do so at all times.