Work on the upgradation of the road between Mukkombu and the Butterfly Park in Srirangam, which ran into hurdles due to the dispute between the Water Resources and the Forest departments over the ownership of a piece of land, is likely to resume shortly.
The road is a component of construction of new barrage at a cost of ₹ 387.6 crore across the Kollidam River at Mukkombu. Larson and Tubro, which is executing the project for the Water Resources Department of the State Government, has already completed the construction of the barrage. The laying of a road along the bund along the Cauvery river from Mukkombu to Butterfly Park, which (bund) suffered extensive damage in the 2004 floods, is the only pending work. Since it was felt that it was important to strengthen the bund, the WRD included the component in the construction of the new barrage project.
The WRD, after completing the main project, began the road work about four months ago. The bund strengthening work has already been completed. But, the laying of the blacktop road and the construction of a bridge at Oosiplayam were halted midway recently due to the claim of the Forest Department that a portion of the land, where the road work was on, fell under a Reserve Forest. However, citing revenue records, the WRD maintained that the land belonged to it.
According to reliable sources, when the WRD went ahead with the construction of the bridge, some Forest personnel allegedly disrupted the work by placing timbers and machines at the site recently. A complaint was also lodged in the Vathalai police station against the WRD officials for defying the Reserve Forest rules.
As the two departments were at logger heads on the ownership of the land, Collector M. Pradeep Kumar made an on-the-spot inspection along with revenue and officials of the departments concerned recently. After verifying various documents, he is said to have been convinced that the land belonged to the WRD.
A senior official told The Hindu that the Collector had given a letter to the WRD to resume the work based on the revenue records. It would be resumed once the discharge of flood water into the Kollidam was stopped.
When contacted, a senior official of the Forest Department maintained that the land was under the Reserve Forest since 1905. It was leased out to the Tamil Nadu Forest Plantation Corporation in the 1960s. The Department was not against the upgradation of the road. The WRD officials should have sought the approval through proper channel, the official said.