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(ARCHIVE) Vol. Vol. XVIII No. 19, january 16-31, 2009
Elevated corridor
– in need of more thought
(By A Special Correspondent)

The foundation stone for a 19.5km elevated corridor, said to be the longest in the country and which will connect Maduravoyal to Chennai Port, thereby facilitating ease of container and freight movement, was laid recently. There has been much praise for the plan and much has been written about the benefits that will accrue when the four-lane express highway is completed. But, as usual, a number of questions regarding the implementation remain unanswered and it is on these that the successful completion of the roadway will actually depend.

1. Alignment – The corridor, originally planned to run along the River Cooum, has now been re-aligned to run over Poonamallee High Road from Maduravoyal to Koyambedu and then along the banks of the Cooum. The precise details of how this will work are yet to be published. In the past, wherever a flyover has come up over an existing road, we have seen that a significant part of the road becomes useless. If this is to happen in this instance also, it is difficult to imagine how Poonamallee High Road, which is an important artery in the city, will be put to use.

2. The River – While the Cooum has become nothing more than a gutter, it still plays an important role as a storm-water channel. In addition, it has the potential to be revived as an alternative means of transport. The Government has also announced several plans regarding the revival and beautification of the river. What happens to all of these? Further, when the Mass Rapid Transport System (MRTS) was aligned along the Buckingham Canal, it ended up running on the canal’s bed itself, thereby finishing off the Canal. Today, areas that run along the Canal are prone to flooding. Will this happen to the Cooum and its surrounding areas once the elevated corridor is completed?

3. Rehabilitation of Slum Dwellers – It has been estimated that around 12,000 families living in shanties along the River Cooum will have to be re-habilitated to make way for the elevated corridor. The alternative site for their relocation is yet to be identified. The interests of these people, such as their proximity to their workplaces, etc. have to be taken into account while planning such a large relocation exercise. Has this been worked out? This single aspect alone has the potential to wreak havoc on deadlines.

4. Land acquisition – How is it that a project is announced and foundation stone laid even before detailed plans of the project, including earmarking of areas that need to be acquired, are made public? Already, according to reports, there are rumblings in the official machinery about delays in land acquisition for the project which is expected to be completed within three years. Almost all big projects have foundered on land acquisition with its associated delays caused by protests and legal cases.

5. Selection of Entry and Exit Points – The elevated corridor which was originally meant for containers and freight alone, will also be accessible to the public, according to the latest announcement. Entry and exit ramps have been planned on Sivananda Salai (Adam’s Road near the Government Estate), College Road, Kamaraj Salai (the Marina) and Spur Tank Road. All these are very busy thoroughfares and any additional entry and exit points need to be made without sacrificing the existing road space. Also, traffic alignment needs to be taken into account, as additional ingress and exit of traffic along these roads can only add to the general chaos that prevails on these stretches during peak hours. Also, will the corridor eventually become a fait accompli in the sense that people will have no option but to go on it as the roads below will become unusable? And considering that the elevated road will have toll charges is it fair on the public?

6. The War Memorial – This is an aspect on which all reports are silent. How will this heritage structure react to the increased activity in its vicinity? Also, will the elevated road run over the War Memorial or alongside it? Not a very important point perhaps for the Government, which takes only the macro view, but very much germane to the issue as far as we at Madras Musings are concerned.


In this issue

Elevated Corridor...
Improve Central Station...
If Bogota can do it...
The freedom struggle...
Historic residences...
Other stories in this issue...

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