No headway yet in getting Defence land for road over bridge

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Construction of the multi-level road over bridge (ROB) near Tiruchi Junction remains stalled as there has been no headway in getting the Defence land to complete the Chennai arm.

The Chennai arm is the final segment of the first stage of the project. Construction of the segment remains suspended for several months now as the process of getting the Defence land for the project is yet to be completed.

The ROB being built by the Railways and the Highways department is being executed in two stages. The first stage of the project has already overshot its February 2017 deadline for completion and could be in for closure of the contract soon. After the completion of the first stage, the old narrow bridge would have be dismantled to make way for the construction of second stage of project.

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

The Highways department had sought about 2,685 square metres of Defence land for the entire project, with 1,600 square metres required for the first stage. Negotiations are still underway on with the Defence Ministry to get their land for this and a few other projects in the State.

The ministry as a policy does not provide land for monetary consideration and hence the State government had offered the Defence Ministry land of equal value (in lieu of its land) in Kancheepuram district. But the Ministry has reportedly sought land of equal value within Chennai city limits.

According to sources, the government was willing to provide the land as sought by the Ministry and the process of identifying the land was on. Tiruchi MP P.Kumar, who has been pursuing the developments with the Defence Ministry and the State government, told The Hindu that he has sought an appointment with the Defence Minister Nirmala Seetharaman next week to request her to expedite the process.

Delays in land transfer and acquisition have been major impediments much to the dismay of the residents. “People have been facing much hardship due to the slow progress made in the completing the final stage of the bridge. The Defence Ministry should hand over the land expeditiously in the interest of the people,”said H.Ghouse Baig, a resident and consumer activist of Crawford.

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