TAMIL NADU

Residents seek early transfer of Defence land for flyover

The ROB being built by the Railways and the Highways department in Tiruchi has already overshot the deadline.M. MoorthyM_Moorthy

The ROB being built by the Railways and the Highways department in Tiruchi has already overshot the deadline.M. MoorthyM_Moorthy  

This will help complete the Chennai arm of the ROB near Tiruchi Junction

Resentment is growing among civic activists, residents and elected representatives of the city over the “inordinate delay” in transferring a piece of land sought by the State Highways Department from the Defence Ministry for the construction of the multi-level road over bridge (ROB) near Tiruchi Junction.

Construction of the bridge remains suspended for several months now as the Defence Ministry is yet to give “enter upon” permission to the State Highways Department to proceed with the project. Nearly 90% of the first stage of the project has been completed but for the Chennai arm of the bridge, which needs to be connected to a new approach road to be laid across a piece of Defence land. Once the permission is given, the first stage of the bridge would be completed within three months, sources in the Highways Department said.

The department had sought 2,685 square metres of Defence land for the project being executed in two stages in association with the Railways.

The first stage of the project was scheduled to be completed by February 2017 but overshot the deadline due to delays in getting the required land initially from the Railways and now from the Defence Ministry.

For more than two years now, the Highways and district authorities along with elected representatives have been pushing hard to get the small piece of land so that the unfinished Chennai arm of the ROB can be completed.

The State government had offered land of equal value (for this and a few other infrastructure projects in the State for which Defence lands are required) in Kancheepuram district; but the Ministry has reportedly sought land of equal value within Chennai city limits. Although the State was willing to accede to the request, a suitable land could not be identified in Chennai City. Some prospective sites were mired in litigation, it was said.

Tiruchi MP P. Kumar, who has been pursuing the issue with the Defence Ministry and the State government, expressed his disappointment openly at a party meeting in the city on Friday. “Be it the Congress or BJP government, the interests of Tamil Nadu and Tiruchi, in particular, is being neglected. I have taken up the matter with Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman twice but yet there has been no progress in transferring the land for the expansion of the city airport and the bridge,” he regretted.

Expressing concern over the stalemate, M. Sekaran, president, Federation of Consumer and Service Organisations, appealed to Ms. Sitharaman to ensure that the land is transferred quickly. “Not only city residents, but travellers from different parts of the State are suffering. Ms. Sitharaman had studied in Tiruchi and we request her to intervene personally,” Mr.Sekaran said.

Pending completion of the Chennai arm, the other arms of the bridge too cannot be brought into full use, residents point out.

Only after completion of the first stage, the old narrow bridge across the railway lines could be dismantled to make way for a new bridge in the second stage of the project.

“In the absence of proper service lanes, pending completion of the project fully, people have been facing much hardship everyday. The Defence Ministry should hand over the land expeditiously in the interest of the people,” said H. Ghouse Baig, a resident of Khajamalai.

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