The Tamil Nadu Highways Department and the Union Ministry of Road Transport and Highways remain deadlocked over the terrible state of seven National Highways in the State. On Tuesday, Highways Minister Edapadi K Palaniswami turned the heat on the National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) for failing to maintain NH 205, otherwise known as MTH Road.
Palaniswami had surveyed work on the Outer Ring Road, when he pulled up NHAI officials for neglecting the stretch between the Padi Flyover and Avadi. He reiterated the State government’s demand to the Ministry responsible for the repair.
“The Minister categorically told the NHAI official that they should completely relay the road before handing it back to the Highways Department. Or, they should hand it over along with the money for its repair,” said a highly placed source in the Highways Department.
The State government had written to the Ministry in March, putting forth these demands, but there has been no official reply. Sources say Union Road Transport and Highways Secretary A K Upadhyay met TN Chief Secretary Debendranath Sarangi to urge the State government to take up repairs of the road, but no commitments were made at the meeting.
NHAI officials say they have neither the authority nor the wherewithal to repair the seven National Highways, including NH 205, that are in a terrible condition.
“The road has come into the city till Ambattur, and such roads will see extensive damage. We cannot keep relaying the road. The mandate for roads in the city comes under the Highways Department. Anyway, we have sanctioned a token sum of Rs 50,000 per kilometre for patchwork,” said IG Reddy, CGM (Chennai) of NHAI.
He added that there were only two ways to break the deadlock. “One, the State can take up the work in the public interest, because it is the people of this State who are using the roads. Or voices from the highest levels of the State government have to pressure the Ministry into acting on this front. Till then, we cannot expect much improvement,” Reddy said.