Monday, May 25, 2015

Pending projects: TN’s Lone Union Minister Pins Hope on Jaya


Port Wings News Network:

In a congratulatory message to Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa, who sworn in as the CM of Tamil Nadu for the record fifth time on May 23, Mr Pon. Radhakrishnan, Minister of State for Road Transport, Highways & Shipping, has said that her return as CM will foster fast-paced and better industrial growth in the of southern coastal state.
Mr Radhakrishnan, who also attended the Jayalalithaa’s swearing-in ceremony as the representative of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, said that many pending port-related projects are likely to be speeded up under the new Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa.

In an unexpected visit during November last year, Mr Radhakrishnan, who was the then Union Minister of State for Heavy Industries and Public Enterprises, met the then Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu Mr O. Panneerselvam at the State Secretariat.
During the meeting, Mr Radhakrishnan, who is the only Minister representing the state of Tamil Nadu in the Union Government,  and Mr Panneerselvam discussed the status of several ongoing port and road-related projects and acquisition of land for some projects.
Later speaking to reporters then, the Minister had stated that they discussed some of the ongoing projects including the Ennore Manali Road Improvement Project, Maduravoyal-Chennai Port Elevated Expressway project.
According to experts, eventhough five months have passed since then, nothing has moved beyond a certain point.
However, Mr Radhakrishnan, who has been now moved to Ministry of Road Transport, Highways & Shipping, pinned hope on the new Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa that she would speed up all those port-related projects, as it would bring a name and fame for the Tamil Nadu government during the proposed Global Investors Meet (GIM) slated for September as the “best destination for investment.”

It is worth recalling here that the then UPA Government at the Centre and the Tamil Nadu State Government led by AIADMK were at loggerheads on port connectivity projects like EMRIP and Chennai Port-Maduravoyal Elevated Expressway. However, scenario has changed little bit after the BJP-led Union Government sworn in May 2014.

Though the then Union Minister of Shipping Mr G K Vasan was instrumental in revitalizing the defunct EMRIP Project in January 2011, which was conceived in early 2000 and remained a non-starter for years, non-cooperation from the state government had its toll on the important port connectivity project.
However, things have started changing post May 2014after the BJP taking over the Union Government.
As one date, about 85 % of the EMRIP project has been completed and few stretches near Kasimedu along the Ennore Expressway, which falls under the Tamil Nadu Government’s ambit, are still remaining a tumbling block.
In March, Mr Radhakrishnan reviewed the progress of the project and asked the Chennai port management to persuade the Tamil Nadu State Government for early completion.

Likewise, Chennai Port-Maduravoyal Elevated Expressway project, another important port connectivity project, is stuck for more than three years.
During a visit to Tamil Nadu last November, Union Minister of Road Transport & Highways, Shipping Mr Nitin Gadkari reviewed the pending port connectivity projects in Chennai and went on an open appeal to the Tamil Nadu government to cooperate with them for speedy implementation in the interest of the nation.

While observing that the issue of Elevated Expressway between Chennai Port and Maduravoyal for providing a dedicated road connectivity to the Port is embroiled in court case, Mr Radhakrishnan, during a review meeting in March this year, had recommended that both NHAI and Tamil Nadu government should make efforts to reach an out of court settlement so that the work can be resumed.

With a view to alleviate the perennial congestion of heavy vehicles on Chennai’s arterial roads which could create serious problems for other common road users in the future if not arrested on time, major stakeholders -- Chennai Port, a Central government-maintained major port, and the Tamil Nadu state government – have planned for a better road connectivity to ensure seamless movement of cargo towards Chennai Port round-the-clock without disturbing common road users.
The need for a dedicated freight road emerged as a better solution, as Chennai Port has experienced a steady increase in the volume of traffic handled over the years, which in turn has increased the traffic on the internal roads of the Port.
The Elevated road connectivity project came in to existence due to certain traffic restrictions on movement of heavy vehicles to Chennai Port on NH-4 within Chennai city.

In the message to CM Jayalalithaa, Mr Radhakrishnan also highlighted that her return as Chief Minister would help to move forward swiftly on establishing a modern and a world-class international port at Colachel Harbour, which is now maintained by the Tamil Nadu Maritime Board.

Though the meeting between Union Minister Mr Radhakrishnan and then Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Mr Paneerselvam had rekindled the hope for changing signs between Tamil Nadu State government and Union Government, the attendance of Mr Radhakrishnan as the representative of Prime Minister Narendra Modi at the Jaya swearing-in on May 23 has further raised the hope among the Exim fraternity in the state.
A few of them even said that Mr Radhakrishnan could meet the Tamil Nadu Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa in the State Secretariat soon to seek her support in completing all pending port-related projects and re-development of Colachel Harbour as a Union-Government managed international standard port.

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