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(ARCHIVE) Vol. XX No. 23, March 16-31, 2011
Elevated road faces 30 stringent conditions
Will they be followed?
(By The Editor)

The proposed elevated road from Maduravoyal to the Port has been given Coastal Regulation Zone clearance by the Ministry of Environment and Forests (MOEF). The approval, however, comes with a set of 30 stringent conditions, compliance with all of which will be ABSOLUTELY MANDATORY (emphasis ours). It is now up to the authorities concerned to implement all of them in letter and spirit. It is noteworthy to point out that the Tamil Nadu State Coastal Zone Management Authority (TNSCZMA) rejected the project twice before granting it approval.

The elevated corridor, which is expected to ease congestion and help in the movement of vehicles to the Port, was announced a couple of years ago and the foundation stone for the Rs. 1600 crore project was laid by the Prime Minister in January 2010. ­Originally planned as a corridor running over Poonamallee High Road, its alignment has since undergone a couple of changes and it now runs along the Cooum with 35 foundation pits being in the river bed.

In its approval, the MOEF has stipulated that a high-level advisory and monitoring committee, under the chairmanship of the Chief Secretary and ­including secretaries of Environment and Public Works ­Department, experts and other stakeholders be set up. The TNSCZMA will have to be fully involved in the implementation. The project will have to ensure that at no place is the free flow of the Cooum to be impeded. The adverse impact of the construction on other water-bodies is also to be monitored closely.

The approval takes into ­account the resettlement of displaced families and has asked for a status report. It has also recognised that there is a Cooum clean-up project based on the Singapore model in the offing and has asked to study the plans for that. In its letter to the Chairman of the Port Trust, the MOEF has said that no construction outside of what is permitted as per CRZ rules is to be undertaken. No liquid or solid waste is to be emptied into the river and any topsoil that is excavated is to be used in the site itself for horticultural purposes. Longitudinal drains are to be provided along the road and adequate culverts and underpasses with proper drainage facilities are to be ensured. The seismic safety of the road is to be ensured and fly-ash bricks are to be used in the construction along with ready-mix concrete.

It is evident that a considerable amount of thought has gone into the approval and it remains to be seen if the local authorities can really rise up to the stringent conditions. It is also worthwhile noting that the very day the MOEF approval was reported, there was a parallel article in a national daily on the adverse impact that an elevated road in Delhi has had on its immediate environment. That road was probably built under strict guidelines too – on paper. Will our road be any different?

And a couple of more questions: Will experts and stakeholders be only government and quasi-government officials or will they include private citizens and NGO representatives? In at least the same number as government representatives and unlike the representation found in the Heritage Committee?

In this issue

Elevated road faces 30 stringent conditions
State's red lights due for regulation
Taking a closer look at the Nilgiris
An ancient tradition of Tamil Nadu – PAINTING
Conserving energy – to reduce global warming
Other stories

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