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Tiruchi-Pudukottai highway work in limbo

More than six years have passed since the National Highways Development Authority of India (NHAI) began the works on Tiruchi-Pudukottai highway. And more than three years have passed since the NHAI started collecting toll charges for using the highway. Yet, a portion of road works on the highway and Tiruchi-Thanjavur bypass road remains incomplete.

Although work on widening the Tiruchi-Pudukottai segment was completed about a couple of years ago, a three-kmstretch at Letchumanapatti was left out. From its side, Southern Railway completed the bridge part of the work.

Road users felt relieved when works resumed about a year ago on formation of an approach road for a three-km-stretch at Letchumanapatti. But they did not last long. There is still no sign of resumption of works.

Disappointed over the inordinate delay in completion of works, motorists and local residents of Mathur, Mandaiyur, Keeranur and others have held a number of protests including road roko and demonstrations. Officials had to step in time and again to pacify the agitators to give up the protest, like when they were about to stage a protest at Keeranur in Pudukottai district on Wednesday. The revenue and police officials managed to pacify them by promising that the pending works would be completed within a month.

A senior official, who was part of the peace committee meeting at Keeranur, said the agitators — most of them regular users — pointed to the inordinate delay over completion of works. They had held out a warning that they would stage a massive protest if the works were not completed within a month.

Highly placed sources told The Hindu that financial constraints faced by the contractor was the reason for the delay. The contractor had been given ample opportunities to complete the pending works. The matter had been taken to senior officials of the National Highway Authority of India.

On the request of a banker to the contracting company, a final chance had been given to the firm to complete the works within a month. If it failed to utilise the opportunity, NHAI would take steps to terminate the contract and take up works on a “Risk and Cost” basis and complete them within a month.

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