Click here for more...

(ARCHIVE) Vol. XVIII No. 26, may 1-15, 2009
Protests gather
over elevated road plan
(By A Special Correspondent)

As protests from environmentalists, fisherfolk and beach-lovers gain ground, the Government may have to do some serious rethinking on its proposal to build an elevated expressway along the beach linking the Lighthouse to the East Coast Road.

The first week of April witnessed protests all along Chennai’s coastline with various groups worried about the proposal and labelling it as a sure recipe for environmental disaster. The ‘Save Chennai’s Beaches’ campaign was launched by residents of San Thome, Mylapore, Besant Nagar and Tiruvanmiyur. They took out a procession along Elliot’s Beach and distributed pamphlets highlighting their concerns over the project.

The Government, when it announced its plan to build an elevated road connecting the Light House and the East Coast Road (ECR), stated that the proposed road would improve connectivity between the city and the ECR and would ease the flow of traffic. The entire road in its final form will extend to 9.7 km and will be at a vertical clearance of 5.5m. The first phase will be for 4.7 km and will link the Light House on Kamaraj Salai (Beach Road) with Besant Nagar. A consulting agency has submitted its feasibility report and the estimate is that the first phase will cost Rs 430 crore.

The route will begin from near the Gandhi statue, turn east near the Light House and run along the existing San Thome Bypass Road by the sea up to Srinivasapuram. From there it will cross the Adyar Estuary, run parallel to the broken bridge, pass the Theosophical Society campus and finally connect Besant Nagar near Elliot’s Beach. In the second phase, the elevated road will run along Besant Nagar Beach Road close to Velankanni Church and then run parallel to the coast before joining ECR. Around 500 homes, 14 commercial buildings and three religious buildings will be affected by the plan.

Stakeholders have expressed concern that the project would disrupt fishing activity, displace coastal residents, disturb nesting turtles, and damage ecologically sensitive areas such as the Theosophical Society and Adyar estuary, besides changing the face of residential areas. They allege that the plan is in clear violation of the Coastal Regulation Zone notification of 1991 which prohibits construction along the seacoast. The short-lived pedestrian bridge, parts of which can still be seen, which was destroyed in a cyclone around 30 years ago, stands testimony to the inadvisability of any road development here.

The Theosophical Society, which is a major landowner in the area, has expressed worries over the impact the scheme will have on the ecology of the area. Already, the Society grounds, which once boasted of over 160 different varieties of bird-life, have seen them shrink to around 80. In the event of the road coming up, even these may vanish.

The critics of the proposal have recommended alternative plans to reduce congestion in the San Thome area. They suggest that the Government should work on linking Greenway’s and Durgabai Deshmukh Roads (a plan that was announced and then suddenly put on the backburner), clear the Lattice Bridge Road of all encroachments, thereby making the four-lane carriageway there effective, and also build a grade-separator and subway at the Tiruvanmiyur junction. These steps, they feel, would be far more effective and less harmful to the city’s ecology. But will the Government listen?


In this issue

Going slow on saving...
Protests gather over...
Making Neyveli Lignite...
Tamil studies in Germany
Historic residences...
Other stories in this issue...

Our Regulars

Short 'N' Snappy
Our Readers Write
Quizzin' with Ram'nan
Dates for your Diary


Back to current issue...