There is no good news in sight about the Madras-Tiruvallur High Road, a key link between Chennai and towns to its northwest.
Four years of negligence and apathy have left the stretch a cratered mess, with large stretches more suited to off-roading vehicles rather than normal traffic.
The stretch sees a constant pall of dust hanging over it in the dry season, and is a veritable slush pit after even the slightest rains. Officials of the State government blame the National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) for the despicable condition of the road.
The Madras-Tiruvallur Road (widely referred to as MTH Road) is one end of NH 205, that connects Chennai with Anantpur in Andhra Pradesh. The road was handed by the State Highways Department to NHAI over four years ago for development under the National Highways Development Project (NHDP).
The road has seen little or no maintenance and repair work since then. Movement of significant amounts of heavy vehicles through the stretch has meant the road has almost vanished, leaving behind but a rough path between the rows of buildings on both sides. “I have seen kutcha roads that are in better shape. There has been almost no work on the road in six or seven years. No wonder it is in this state,” said Lenin, who runs a motorcycle repair and puncture shop just off MTH Road.
The deplorable state of MTH Road has meant an increase in congestion on State Highway 112, which connects Inner Ring Road from Thirumangalam Junction with the Chennai Bypass. The other option for motorists is to take a turn into Korattur and then the Dairy Road. Motorists would much rather take longer routes through these parallel roads than travelling down MTH Road, said locals.
NHAI officials were either out of town or had their phones switched off, and were not available for comment. But sources told City Express that NHAI has now asked the State Highways Department to take charge of the road. This is leading to a clash between the National Highways Wing of the State Highways Department and the Union Ministry of Road Transport and Highways. The Tamil Nadu State government has asked the NHAI to foot the bill for repairs to be taken up on the MTH Road. But there has been no reaction from either NHAI or the Union Ministry of Road Transport and Highways, said sources.
TN government officials said they had written a letter to the Ministry in Delhi, and also sent them a reminder, and that they were waiting for an official reply. The resultant stand-off has dragged on for better part of this year, and there seems to be no solution in sight.
So, as said in the beginning, there is no good news when it comes to the MTH Road. Simply avoid taking it. If you are forced to do so, we suggest you set aside a sum for your vehicle repairs.