Will the proposed elevated expressway in Chennai help port users?

TE Raja Simhan | Updated on: May 29, 2022

The stalled project was kick-started again by Narendra Modi last Thursday

The rusted iron pillars on the banks of Chennai’s Cooum river and in the centre of Poonamallee High Road is a reminder of the stalled Chennai Port to Maduravoyal elevated corridor project. But, after a decade, the project many had given up as as lost is back in the limelight within both the Centre and State governments, who were keen on reviving it as a part of the PM Gati Shakti programme.

While the double-decker expressway will be an engineering marvel, will the 21 kilometre corridor — whose project cost has shot up by many times — serve the purpose?

Today, neighbouring ports at Ennore and Kattupalli (a private port) are fast growing, and their relevance will only keep on increasing in the future, even as the Chennai port slows down. The need for the expressway costing around ₹6,000 crore (originally costing ₹1,468 crore) is debatable, port users say.

Opposing opinions

Not all agree. “The project is a must and will facilitate round-the-clock approach of goods vehicles to Chennai port. It will be a lifeline for the port, transporters and users”, says S Nataraja, a logistics service provider. G Raghu Sankar, Executive Director, International Clearing & Shipping Agency (India) says the project will create job opportunities and facilitate economic progress. A combination of Ennore-Manali Road Improvement Project and the elevated corridor may drastically reduce pressure and density of the roads.

At present, a truck from the south or west has to take the Ring Road at Perungalathur towards Maduravoyal, Red Hills, Tiruvottiyur and enter the Chennai port in Royapuram — nearly 75 km away, taking about two hours. However, using the elevated corridor, it will take just 45 minutes, said a trucker.

The project started with a bang during the earlier DMK regime but was stalled due to want of environmental clearance and alignment issues when the AIADMK returned to power in 2011. Many changes were suggested, but shot down. In 2018, National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) terminated the contract, with only 20 per cent of the road completed.

Interestingly, two Prime Ministers are involved in kick-starting the project. The first foundation stone was laid by former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh in 2009 and last Thursday, Prime Minister Narendra Modi again kick-started the project.

When commissioned in about three years, the expressway will be the longest elevated road in Tamil Nadu. The first tier will be for light motor vehicles to be used by common man with multiple entries and exits. The second tier will be for vehicles between Chennai port and Maduravoyal on the Chennai-Bengaluru highway.

The project nearly doubles Chennai port’s container handling capacity to 2.64 million TEUs, says government data.

Published on May 29, 2022
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