Railway bridge works in slow lane

Lack of coordination between state depts and railways
Chennai: Nearly 130 spillover works were taken up in 2012 -13 under the railway works initiatives. Of these, only 89 were taken up in a phased manner, and around 20 per cent of the projects are yet to be completed.
In all, Rs 700 crore worth of bridge projects, proposed at various railway level crossings, are pending for 2013-14, according to sources. “Chennai now has three variants of railway network; Metro Rail work is gaining momentum; so, we want a better co-ordination between the state and railways,” said civic activist S. Mohanram of Pattabiram.
Former railway minister A.K. Moorthy said that the state government’s departments such as highways, local bodies and Chennai corporation, were not working in tandem with Southern Railway, adding to the delay.
“The absence of a railway minister from the state since 2009 is another reason for the lack of infastructure growth.”
No new bridge projects at railway level crossings have come up and several joint venture projects, mooted during the first UPA regime, are still pending, he added.
“At least five projects in the Chennai-Gumidippondi railway section are pending for the past four years. Bridge works at Korrukhupet level crossing started six years ago and in Thiruvottiyur, two years ago, but both are yet to cross the half way mark,” said Mr D. Dhanushkodi, secretary, Chennai-Gumidippondi Rail Passengers’ Association.
Southern Railway sources said that under the metro wing nine bridge works were taken up at a cost of Rs 289.72 crore in the past two years, only the Thiruvotriyur and Pattaravakkam road under bridges making progress. The remaining structures, calling for land acquisition, need the state government’s clearance, which is delaying the joint ventures, sources added.
A state highway official, speaking for the delay in the bridge works, said that for the year 2013, the state government had given administrative sanction for more than '100 crore to carry out land acquisition works and investigations for 12 bridge works at various railway level crossings.
In the case of other state projects, there were more than 900 legal cases pending, affecting the constructions, and they were in the process of deploying more lawyers to fast track the legal proceedings for pending projects.
Meanwhile, Councillors of the opposition DMK have started collecting details related to the pending flyovers in the city and the infra projects put on hold.
The move comes in the wake of DMK leader M. K. Stalin firing salvos against the Chennai corporation last week for not taking up any new bridge work. He also alleged that the civic body had no plans to decongest Chennai’s traffic.
AIADMK Mayor Saidai Duraisamy’s retort was that the DMK had shelved several bridge works during its previous regime. “The state highways and the corporation have not completed at least six bridges in Greater Chennai. The AIADMK regime has done hardly anything to decongest the growing traffic,” alleged former mayor M. Subramanian.
The projects in progress now were mooted during the DMK regime and the bridges department has been reduced to only repairing the existing and old structures, he added.
A senior official said, “It was a policy decision during the DMK regime: the corporation took up all the bridge works and now it is the state highways that is handling the bridges. A study for extension of the Usman road flyover and a new bridge near Chetpet is under consideration.”
( Source : dc correspondent )
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