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Chennai port connectivity project land encroachment cleared but now the residents are up in arms against collection of toll

The two private container terminals of Chennai Port can heave a sigh of relief that the severe obstructions in the last mile connectivity at the lone entrance cum exit gate of the port will become history when a 450 meter stretch of road cleared off all encroachments will be available for movement in the next six months.

The twenty year old project to provide a dedicated lane for container trucks operating from Chennai port will become fully operational when the National Highways authority of India completes the last stretch of merely laying roads on four hundred meters in the next six months.

The politically well connected fishermen group has been holding the port authorities to ransom by declining the remove the encroachment in 400 meters of port land at the fishing harbor close to the entrance of Chennai port for the past several years.

The Jayalalitha government added to the woes of the Chennai port by blocking the Elevated Corridor project from the Port to Maduravoyal for the past five years.

With the non completion of both the infra projects, Chennai port has become the worst victim and containers have shifted to neighboring ports. A leading container operator has shifted his base from Chennai to Kamarajar Port in nearby Ennore six months ago citing problems at the entrance of Chennai port.

Work to widen the final 450- m stretch of the Ennore-Manali Road Improvement Project (EMRIP) inside the fishing harbor has begun last week after an inordinate delay.

The foundation stone for the Rs 600-crore project to provide connectivity to ports in Ennore and Chennai by widening four roads in north Chennai was laid in 2011. The project was announced way back in 1998.  Thus it has taken 21 years to complete a crucial connectivity project for Chennai port.

The Chennai port took some time to hand over the final stretch that passes through fish shops and fish drying areas as they had to provide alternative space for fishers.

The fishing harbor is under the control of the port and Ennore Expressway provides final connectivity to the Chennai port via the road running through the fishing harbor.

Sources in the National Highways Authority of India (NHAI), which has widened the roads — Tiruvottiyur- Ponneri-Panchetty Road, Manali Oil Refinery Road, Ennore Expressway and the northern sector of the Inner Ring Road — said the work will take six months to complete. “We were waiting for the land to be handed over to us. The present road inside is very narrow and needs widening.

Thousands of trailer trucks take these roads on a daily basis to reach the Chennai port. They line up on the roads, waiting for entry passes to the port due to lack of space inside.

Meanwhile, amid protests by residents and truckers, tolling for the traffic passing through the expressway began last month.

After having blocked the expressway project for nearly two decades, residents of north Chennai are now up in arms against collection of a toll though a facility has been provided for dedicated lanes for passenger and container traffic from the Port.

Residents of North Chennai had blocked the Chennai port’s main bread winner, handling of coal traffic by the Port by citing pollution. A port official said they would ensure that both EMRIP and dedicated corridor projects are delayed indefinitely and by the time they are completed the container traffic would have shifted to other ports. In that case the connectivity projects will remain a monument for the Chennai Port.

 

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