Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Dindigul-Kovai Road to be four-laned - TOI

To enable better flow of traffic in the region, the National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) is proposing to expand the Dindigul-Coimbatore-Hasanur portion of the NH-209. The 268km project will cost 1,150 crore. But officials say projects like this one run into red tape, often delaying them for years. They blame lack of transparency in the process for inordinate delays.

The project was envisaged by NHAI in August 2010. The state highways department had initially proposed a two-lane road, but the project was later handed over to NHAI and changed into a four-lane scheme. The Dindugul-Coimbatore portion of the road, which is a 154.4km-long stretch, will be separately executed and the rest will be a two-lane road. Twenty-three km of this stretch will be a ghat road running through Bannari.

Six bypasses, six rail-over-bridges and two major bridges will be part of the project to ensure smooth flow of traffic. The bridges will run over Shanmuganadi river near Palani and Amaravathi river near Madathukulam. The feasibility study for the project is over. Pedestrian, passenger and vehicular underpasses will be part of the project. Service roads, rest areas and bus bays will provided.

The NHAI has held several public meetings in Udhumalpet, Pollachi and Kinathukadavu to get to know public opinion. People have sought a bypass in Kinathukadavu and the demand is being considered. However, a Highway Traffic Management System (HTMS), an advanced way to monitor traffic, will not be part of the project. The Dindigul-Coimbatore-Hasanur Road runs through Ottanchanthiram, Palani, Udhumalpet, Pollachi, Annur and Satyamangalam. The bypasses will be built in Ottanchattiram, Chatrapathi, Ayakkudi, Madathukulam, Udhumalpet and Pollachi.

But officials admitted that ambitious projects like the four-laning of a significant portion of NH-206 generally runs into red tape. "There are too many steps before a project finally gets clearance. The proposal goes to the Union highways ministry, cabinet, Parliamentary Committee on Highways and Planning Commission. We need Union finance ministry and Cabinet Committee on Infrastructure approval also. All of this takes time. We get fed up by the time the project finally gets approval. Now, a new proposal to clear the project based on surveys conducted is being planned," said an official.

The land acquisition process, which is done under the National Highways Act, 1956, is also a cumbersome routine. "Many projects are delayed due to the time it takes to acquire land," an official said.

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