Projects under the Highways Department amounting to nearly Rs. 1,000 crore, are being delayed due to land acquisition issues, shifting of service lines, obtaining permission from the police for traffic diversions and legal entanglements. At present, there are 27 cases against acquisition of land for projects including the six-laning of the East Coast Road, construction of flyovers in Vadapalani, Moolakadai and Korattur, formation of the Eastern Byepass near Tambaram and widening of Taramani Link Road.
Of these, 19 are less than a year old. For instance, one of the key projects that the department is executing jointly with Chennai Metro Rail Limited (CMRL), the Rs. 69-crore flyover at the Vadapalani junction, is being delayed as it has not been able to acquire land. The project requires a total of 702 sq. m. at the junction, to create service lanes.
“We have already settled the tender for the construction of ramps, the laying of service lanes and construction of stormwater drains. We have also deposited Rs. 30 crore with CMRL for the construction of the central portion of the flyover. However, a few shops and a temple have gone to court and obtained a stay,” said a source in the department.
It took the department six months to obtain permission from the city traffic police to divert traffic near the Moolakkadai flyover in north Chennai. “We have only recently obtained the permission but the police have asked us to strengthen the alternative road and work on that is progressing. Once that is over, the diversion will come into effect,” a source said.
A case pending from way back in 2000, relating to the eviction of encroachments is also another cause of delay. Widening of the Taramani Link Road has been delayed due to several reasons including the slow pace of construction of a drain by the Public Works Department.
While Southern Railway completed construction of its portion of a subway at Radha Nagar in Chromepet replacing level crossing 27, the highways department is waging a battle against 26 persons whose homes and businesses are being affected due to the project. “We need land for widening the approach road to the subway, otherwise the subway would be pointless,” an official said.