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Saturday, December 18, 2010

Six highways projects likely to be dropped

CHENNAI: In a rare move, the state highways department is planning to drop six flyover and subways projects for various reasons, including lack of funds for acquisition of land. Among the six projects are the ones in Wimco Nagar, Tiruvottiyur and Meenambakkam.

At a high-level coordination meeeting on Thursday, Southern Railway reportedly told the highways department to get the concurrence of the collectors concerned for permanent closure of gates if it wanted to drop the six projects. While poor traffic was cited for dropping the proposed flyover/subway project at LC 87 in Tiruchi, proposals for similar projects at neighbouring level crossings were the reason for deciding to scrap a project at Tindivanam.

All these projects, joint ventures of the highways and railways, were sanctioned by the DMK-led government in 2007-2008. "They were conceived by Southern Railway as part of its bid to remove manual level crossings and the state government gave its nod," said a senior official.

According to official sources, only these six projects have been found to be non-feasible. The rest of the 148 projects taken up across the state since 1999 have no problems.

At the level crossing near Wimco Nagar station off Tiruvottiyur High Road one of the six that have been decided to be dropped a road-over-bridge or flyover, it has been felt, is not feasible. A subway, involving acquisition of a huge quantity of private land, is not feasible either, it was found. More than a lakh of people in Ramanathapuram, Shanmugapuram, Jyothi Nagar, Murugappa Nagar and Jai Hind Nagar rely on this level crossing to move to the other end of the city.

S Govindaraj, a long-time resident of Ramanathapuram, says: "We have been asking the local MLA, who is also a minister, to consider our plea to build a subway. The delay in executing the project could mean losing many lives on the tracks." While some residents claimed that only those projects within the city limits were executed in record time, others were mulling a protest programme to seek the government's attention.

Building a pedestrian subway on defence land in Meenambakkam was, it was found, difficult in terms of funds. Also, the defence ministry reportedlywanted a flyover to replace the level crossing and not a pedestrian subway. "The defence ministry has not accepted the move for a permanent closure of the gate either," official sources said. Hence, the decision to shelve the project.

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