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Road overbridge still remains unfinished

It is at Kalamavur on Tiruchi-Pudukottai Highway

TIRUCHI

More than seven years after the National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) began collecting toll on Tiruchi-Pudukottai-Karaikudi highway there are still a few works to be completed on the stretch much to the resentment of road users.

As per the plan, the project on widening the Tiruchi-Pudukottai highway that began in 2010 should have been completed by 2013. But, the NHAI could complete just about 80% of the work within the estimated time. It could not complete the work on a few stretches. Building of a road overbridge bridge (RoB) at Kalamavur near Keeranur and a four km stretch near Karaikudi were among the pending works.

It was initially stated that litigation was the reason for the inability to complete the works. It then turned out that financial problems faced by the concessionaire was the reason for the delay. After a public outcry, the NHAI managed to complete the four km stretch near Karaikudi. Though the NHAI resumed the construction of RoB at Kalamavur about three years ago, the work was halted again abruptly, forcing the motorists to drive on an alternative mud road. Irked over the undue delay in completion of works, residents of various villages and towns including Mathur, Mandaiyur and Keeranur resort to protests every now and then.

On its part, the Southern Railway has completed its portion of the bridge. The approach roads on either side were also formed. The NHAI has to connect approach roads with the RoB and carry out the construction of the parapet. But, the works are pending for several months.

Motorists, who were disappointed over the undue delay in completion of works, lament over having to pay the toll. “I have been forced to drive on an alternative route near Kalamavur for more than 10 years. It is understandable that if the work is delayed for three to six months or even a year. But it is pending for years. The irony is that we continue to pay toll for using the road for more than seven years,” M. Vinodh Kumar of Ponnagar, a regular user, lamented.

When contacted a senior NHAI official told The Hindu that the NHAI had cancelled the award given to a company for failing to complete the project on time in spite of time extension given to it. A fresh contract had been awarded to another company for completing the pending works and it began the work in January. However, the lockdown, which was in force in view of the spread of COVID-19, had delayed the work. Steps would be taken to complete the pending works as early as possible.

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