TAMIL NADU

Kalamavur bridge work takes a toll on road users

Vehicles taking an alternative road near Keeranur on Tiruchi-Karaikudi highway

Vehicles taking an alternative road near Keeranur on Tiruchi-Karaikudi highway  

Company failed to complete the work on time: NHAI official

It is five years since National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) started collecting toll from road users. The Central agency, however, is yet to complete a portion of work near Kalamavur on Tiruchi-Karaikudi Highway.

The widening of road between Tiruchi and Karaikudi began in 2010. Under the original plan, the project should have been completed in 2013. But NHAI encountered a number of issues including problems in land acquisition and litigation.

Despite the hurdles, it managed to complete about 80% of the work. But it could not complete the work for eight km, four each near Kalamavur and Karaikudi. The financial crunch faced by the company, which bagged the road work, was cited as reason for the inordinate delay in completion of the project.

Nevertheless, NHAI began collecting toll at two places about five years ago, much against the wishes of road users.

In the meantime, NHAI completed work on a four-km-stretch near Karaikudi. But it is yet to complete construction of a bridge and approach road at Kalamavur near Keeranur, forcing vehicles to take an alternative road.

“It is understandable if the work is held up for two or three months. But It has been pending for more than five years, which is unacceptable. We have been operating on a temporary road for so long,” says M. Karupaiah, a lorry driver of Pudukottai.

Holding NHAI officials responsible for the delay, he said they did not take the issues seriously. Whatever they were, they should not have been allowed to drag the project for so long.

Protesting against the inordinate delay, various political parties and residents of Keeranur and Pudukottai held a number of protests on various occasions.

When contacted, a senior NHAI official toldThe Hinduthat despite being offered many chances, the company had failed to complete the work on time. Hence, the contract was terminated recently.

The remaining work on Tiruchi-Karaikudi Highway and about 16 km bypass road between Tiruchi-Thanjavur Highway and Tiruchi-Madurai Highway would be taken up shortly at a cost of Rs. 135 crore. Tender had already been called for the project, the official added.

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