CHENNAI: The 20.6 km-long Maduravoyal-Chennai Port Elevated Corridor Project, which had remained grounded for nearly 12 years after civil work commenced in 2010, has got a fresh lease of life. The DMK government has given its nod for the redesigned Rs 5,770-crore project to be funded by the National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) through loans and contributions from Chennai port and Tamil Nadu government.
The flyover, which is expected to carry 40,000 passenger car units a day, is among a clutch of road projects that have been put on the front-burner in the first year of the new DMK government after it assumed charge in May last year.
The TN highways department has proposed to upgrade State highways that connect pilgrimage centres and major trade and tourist centres into National Highways. The eight highways to be covered under the scheme are Thiruvannamalai-Kallakurichi, Vallioor-Tiruchendur, Palani-Dharapuram, Arcot-Tindivanam, Mettupalayam-Bhavani, Avinashi-Mettupalayam, Bhavani-Karur highway and a road that links Kollegal taluk of Chamarajanagar in Karnataka with Tamil Nadu border (till Mettur). The Centre’s nod for the proposal is awaited.
The State has 6,606 km of National Highways, of which 1,472 km are maintained by the National Highways wing of the State government and 5,134 km by the NHAI. The total length of the highways, including State highways, is 70,556 km. While the share of National Highways in TN highways is less than 10%, more than 25% of commercial transportation in TN takes place on National Highways.
“As the number of vehicles increases, it is essential to convert major State highways into National Highways,” said a senior official.
Highways Minister EV Velu informed the Assembly last year that issues in transferring East Coast Road to the NHAI for widening will be sorted out soon. “Transfer work is in the final stage,” sources said. Under the Comprehensive Road Infrastructure Development Programme (CRIDP), over 2,200 km of major district roads and other roads were upgraded at Rs 2,300 crore last year.
As per data, 2,076 km of road network covers every 1,000 sq km area in the State. The national average is 1,890 km per 1,000 sq km.
Opposition from people
The Chennai-Salem express highway, expected to cut travel time between Chennai and Salem by more than three hours has been put on hold following resistance from a section of farmers.
A retired highways official from the State highways engineers association said the efficiency of government can be gauged depending on how it translates these proposals into projects. “Land acquisitions will no longer be as easy as they used to be four decades ago.
The scope of the Detailed Project Report (DPR) should also be expanded to study alternative plans for all major projects, particularly those involving the acquisition of large tracts of land,” the official added. Many projects announced during the AIADMK regime faced stiff opposition from people. “Things have come to the stage where no big development can be achieved without facing resistance from people.
The DMK government must devise a strategy to deal with public opposition. Making announcements will not bring any improvement on the field,” the official said. Notably, the DMK government has not made any announcement for new greenfield projects, but decided to replace causeways on rivers with high-level bridges.
During floods in November and December last year, over 75% of causeways got submerged in rivers and were damaged, disrupting traffic in many villages. Thousands of villagers in Vellore, Tiruvannamalai, Madurai, Tiruppur, Salem and Coimbatore faced trouble after causeways built on Palar, Noyyal, and Cauvery got flooded.
The causeways were not only damaged by the heavy rain in TN but excess water discharged by dams in neighbouring Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh triggered flash floods in rivers, an official said. The government has decided to replace causeways with high-level bridges by 2026. For the year 2022-23, Rs 1,105 crore was earmarked for constructing 435 bridges. “Bridges are being built through a NABARD loan scheme and 20% of the cost will be borne by the State,” an official said.
Overview of 12 months
Maduravoyal-Chennai Port Elevated Corridor
NHAI to build double-decker flyover
Approved cost: Rs 5,770 cr
Funded by NHAI (through loans), port, and State government
Chennai-Kanniyakumari Industrial Corridor
- 16 highways proposed for widening under CKICP
- 72.43 km being upgraded from 2-lane to 4-lane
- 516.57 km being upgraded from 1-lane to 2-lane with paved shoulders
- 22 bypasses and 98 other improvement works proposed Project cost: Rs 6,448 cr
- ADB loan assistance: Rs 3,554 cr
- State govt funds: Rs 1,320 cr
- Allocation for 2022-23: Rs 1,300 cr
250 km two-lane roads to be converted into four-lanes at Rs 2,000 cr
600 km single/intermediate lanes to two-lanes: Rs 1,200 cr