By G Saravanan
Published in The New Indian Express, Chennai on Jan 22, 2012:
CHENNAI: Finally, works for widening Thiruvotriyur High Road, one of the two-decades-old demands of the local residents, gained momentum on Saturday after the authorities began pulling down structures that obstructed the widening process.
Despite five bhumipoojas in the last five years and the then local MLA K P P Samy’s one-year ‘deadline’ to residents on completing the project (in 2009), the widening of the road connecting Chennai city with the northern suburbs has been at snail’s pace.
When the project was first planned in 2006, the highways department proposed to convert the entire five-km stretch (from Toll Gate to Ernavur bridge) as a 66 ft four-lane road with median, box culverts, side-drains and seepage pipes at an estimated cost of Rs 11.50 crore.
When the AIADMK won the seat in the recent Assembly election, its elected MLA K Kuppan promised the local residents to initiate the road widening work.
Walking the talk, Kuppan organised a review meeting with the local officials and also succeeded in making the State Highways Minister Palanichamy visit the road for re-starting the stalled widening works.
Due to the inordinate delay in land acquisition for the road widening works, the project cost has escalated to Rs 30 crore from the 2006 projection of Rs 11.5 crore.
On Saturday afternoon, State Highways authorities, using heavy machineries started pulling down the structures that were marked for demolition years ago for the widening project. The encroachment removal drive along the T H Road would continue on Sunday. Official sources said road laying work would begin soon.
The widening of the Thiruvotriyur High Road is a long pending demand of Thiruvotriyur, Ernavur, Kathivakkam and Ennore residents. Traffic snarls are very common in the area as the road is narrow.