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Overbridge impasse: defence land transfer soon

A view of the unfinished portion of the bridge towards the Chennai By-pass Road in Tiruchi.

Stalemate over construction of a multi-level road overbridge (ROB) near Tiruchi Junction on Madurai Road intersection is expected to end soon.

The Highways Department has been unable to complete the Chennai arm of the ROB as the Ministry of Defence is yet to approve transfer of a portion of its land for the project.

Now, the State government has come forward to offer the Ministry land of equal value at Kancheepuram.

The Highways department had sought about 2,685 sq mt of defence land for the project, with 1,600 sq mt for the first stage. The department has been pushing hard to get in-principle approval for nearly two years.

The ROB project, taken up by the Railways and the Highways department, is being executed in two stages by reconstructing the narrow road over the bridge across the railway lines near the Tiruchi Junction.

Construction of the new three-lane ROB with six arms in the first stage has slowed down, pending transfer of defence land. Only after the first stage is completed, the old bridge will be dismantled and a new bridge with two arms will be built in its place in the second stage.

According to sources in the district administration, the Defence Ministry has agreed to transfer its land in lieu of land of equal value at Kancheepuram.

Initially, the ministry had reportedly asked for land of equal value preferably contiguous to its property at Mannarpuram in Tiruchi. Since no land was available in the vicinity, the State government offered land in Kancheepuram.

Collector K.Rajamani said the State government had already identified a site in Kancheerpuram to be provided to the Defence Ministry. Though the Highways department was ready to pay money for the land, the ministry as a policy did not provide land for monetary consideration. Hence, an alternative land of equal value was offered, he said.

Sources in the Highways department said the proposal was with the Commissioner of Land Administration. Once the necessary clearances were issued by the State government, approval for the transfer was expected from the Defence Ministry.

Meanwhile, the Highways department was planning to open the Viralimalai Road and the Central Bus Stand arms soon.

While the arm towards the Viralimalai Road is already completed, work on the construction of the arm towards the bus stand is expected to be completed within a month, the source said.

The project has been severely hampered by delays in land transfer and acquisition from central agencies such as Defence and Railways and also some private owners.

Construction of the first stage of the flyover began in 2014 and was scheduled to be completed by February 2017 but has been dragging on due to issues in handing over land for construction.

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