CHENNAI: It has been six years since a sum of Rs 32 crore was earmarked for the construction of two bridges at Thiruvottiyur. But the State government agencies have not made much progress on the projects for varying reasons, a delay that has caused great inconvenience for the local residents.
While the one under construction by the Highways Department at Sadayankuppam is getting delayed due to land acquisition issues, the other one by the Greater Chennai Corporation (GCC) replacing the 40-year-old foot over iron bridge at Burma Nagar has not even commenced.
Delay in these infrastructural facilities has forced people to walk miles to reach out even for emergency services including ambulances.
Bringing in boats to rescue people from flooded areas was a matter of routine for nearly 30,000 people residing in and around Sadayankuppam at Thiruvottiyur in November-December every year, the period when maximum rainfall is recorded in the State.
To put an end to the connectivity woes, the Tamil Nadu government in 2010 laid the foundation stone for construction of a two-lane bridge more than one km long at a cost of Rs 16.46 crore. The bridge connecting Sadayankuppam with Manali Oil Refinery Road would reduce at least four km of travel.
But even today, locals can be seen using a narrow rickety wooden structure to cross the river. Unable to complete the project, the Highways Department recently installed temporary iron ramps to support pedestrian movement.
Construction which began a year later was put on hold after acquisition of necessary land for the project turned problematic. A Highways official said that out of the 10,286 sq.metre (3,862 sq.m in Thiruvottiyur and 6,424 sq.m in Sadayankuppam) of land required, payments were pending only for 20 per cent of land owners. “The five pending cases will be resolved soon and construction of approach road will begin at the earliest,” the official added.
The optimism, however, is not shared by local residents, who are forced to use the unfinished structure.
S Mahalakshmi, a resident, said that without approach roads in place, they had to trudge through sludge and slime to reach the ramps connecting the bridge whenever it rained. “It’s dangerous to walk at the night as there were no street lights on this path,” she added.
Residents also said they were forced to use the narrow causeway to reach the main road and this was congested during rush hour. “We otherwise have to take a detour of three km through Burma Colony to reach the arterial road,” said R Paechiselvam, another resident.
However, this route also didn’t come to their rescue during the 2015 December floods leaving the entire locality disconnected. An iron bridge constructed four decades ago across Puzhal lake surplus water canal at Burma Nagar got flooded.
Only two-wheelers and autorickshaws can travel along this 1.4-metre-wide riveted structure with rust and wear. Following a series of protests and petitions from the locals, the Greater Chennai Corporation announced that a Rs 15-crore overbridge would be constructed replacing the 10-metre bridge.
“While the Corporation would shell out Rs 9 crore, a private agency will bear the remaining cost,” said a Corporation official. Senior civic body officials and former Mayor ‘Saidai’ S Duraisamy visited the locality last year after funds were sanctioned. No progress was reported following this.
“Even ambulances or fire tenders can’t enter inside our area during emergencies through this narrow bridge. We had to either take the detour through Manali New Town or carry sick patients in stretchers for two to three km to reach the main road,” said N Pazhani from Burma Nagar. A Corporation official said that works were in progress and construction would begin soon.