Jan 7, 2017

Stalemate persists over transfer of Railway land for new bridge

A view of the road over bridge under construction at Aristo roundabout in Tiruchi. 

Photo: Muralitharan

TIRUCHI: Construction of the multi-level bridge at the Aristo Junction in the city continues to face impediments as the Railways and the Highways Department are yet to sign an agreement for transfer of the Railway land.
The two agencies are yet to find common ground on various issues, primarily the value of the land to be transferred by the Railways. The Railway authorities are also said to be insisting on the construction of an exclusive underpass across the new bridge connecting the office of the Divisional Railway Manager and the Railway officials’ residential quarters, a demand Highways officials say “is not technically feasible.”

The project, taken up by the Railways and the Highways Department, is being executed in two stages and envisages building a multi-level bridge replacing the narrow road overbridge across the railway lines near the Tiruchi Junction on the Madurai Road intersection.

In the first stage, a new three-lane road-over-bridge with five arms is being built at a cost of Rs. 44.28 crore adjacent to the existing bridge. In the next stage, the old bridge will be dismantled and a new bridge with two arms built in its place.

With the railway authorities yet to provide “in principle approval’ and “enter upon” permission to execute works on a portion of its land, the Highways Department has been unable to complete the first stage of the project.

The Railways has been maintaining that the Highways has not come forward to sign the agreement yet. This was reiterated at a recent meeting with MPs of Southern and Central districts convened by the General Manager of Southern Railway in Tiruchi recently. In response to a query seeking in principle approval for the transfer of 872 square metres for the first stage of the project, the Railways had replied that the proposal for long term lease would be conveyed to the Railway Board for approval once the Highways authorities sign the agreement.

Tiruchi MP P.Kumar along with other MPs staged a walk out from the meeting expressing dissatisfaction over the replies given at the meeting on this and various other issues. “I requested the authorities to transfer the lands at the earliest in public interest. Despite several rounds of talks, the issues remain. I intend to take up the matter with the Railway Minister,” Mr.Kumar told The Hindu.

According to sources in the Highways Department, nearly 80 per cent of the first stage of the project has been completed. Although the Highways department had sought the alienation of the land, the Railways has proposed to give it only on long lease for 35 years for a compensation of 99 per cent of the market value of the land. The Railways is also said to be insisting on taking the 2012 guideline value as the base and providing seven per cent escalation for every subsequent year. This is not agreeable to the Highways.

Pending the land transfer, the Highways Department has not been able to complete the service lanes along the Dindigul Highway and also the bridge portion towards the Aristo Junction from the Viralimalai Road Junction. The Railways has reportedly asked the Highways Department to pay the compensation for the land first before taking up the work on this stretch.

Sources in the Highways Department said that senior officials of the department in Chennai have been briefed and a high-level meeting is likely to be convened soon with senior Railway officials to sort out the issues.

The first stage of the new flyover is scheduled to be completed by February 2017 but is likely to be delayed due to the stalemate.
Source - The Hindu

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