CHENNAI: The ambitious Chennai Peripheral Road project has received Coastal Regulation Zone (CRZ) clearance from Union Environment Ministry.
Now, State highways department is fast-tracking the process of diversion of forest lands on the outskirts of Chennai, besides private land acquisition for commencement of road construction that will form a huge ring around the city connecting Mahabalipuram in the south and Ennore in the north.
Measuring 133.381 km, the proposed road will connect in between Singaperumalkoil, Sriperumbadur, Tiruvallur, Thamaraipakkam, Periyapalayam, Puduvoyal and Kattupalli. It will join four national highways and eight state highways that criss-cross Chennai and its suburbs and hence help decongest the highways leading to Chennai and its ports.
A senior official in Tamil Nadu Road Infrastructure Development Corporation said the proposed road will compliment Outer Ring Road that connects Vandalur and Tiruvallur-Ponneri-Panchetti Road in Minjur. This road will connect all the major radial roads including four National Highways and Ennore and Kattupalli Ports and is expected to accelerate industrial and economic growth of the State. "As a whole, formation of peripheral road will save travel time/distance of bypass-able traffic and improve Port connectivity. It will also help container movement from the southern districts," said the official.
The project has been in the pipeline for last few years and in August 2018 State Environment Impact Assessment Authority gave its clearance. Post Expert Appraisal Committee recommendation, Union environment ministry on August 5, 2019 gave the CRZ clearance with certain conditions.
Official documents shows CRZ clearance was mandated as the project road will cross two rivers - Cooum and Kosasthalaiyar - and a number of tanks, channels, nallahs, backwaters, Buckingham canal etc. Bridges are proposed for these waterway crossings. The project also requires diversion of 10.23 hectares of forest land falling in three reserve forests, including Mannur reserve forest (0.28 ha), Thirutteri reserve forest (1.86 ha) and Sengundram reserve forest (8.09 ha).
Tamil Nadu Road Infrastructure Development Corporation (TNRIDC) officials told Express that the diversion of forest land was in progress. The length of project road within CRZ area is about 2.762 km
covering about 82.64 hectares.
There are 4,797 trees falling within the project corridor, of which 2,168 trees will be retained (in medians and roadsides), as suggested by State Environment Assessment Committee (SEAC). The remaining 2,629 trees will be transplanted. A total of 802 buildings are likely to be demolished.
Considering possible negative impact of the project on environment, the ministry imposed several conditions on State highways department. Mangrove afforestation, uninterrupted flow of natural tidal waters, monitoring of water quality in the Ennore creek are some of the conditions. The total project is estimated to be Rs 11,528 crore, which includes the land acquisition cost of Rs 4,855 crore.