The Union Budget made allocations for some major infrastructure projects like Special Economic Zone and metro rail expansion in the poll-bound Tamil Nadu.
The state government had demanded such projects weeks before the Budget was announced. Now, it has started preliminary works on the projects with assembly elections in sight.
During his meeting with Prime Minister Narendra Modi in New Delhi on January 19, chief minister Edappadi K Palaniswami (EPS) had submitted a memorandum consisting of 12 demands. Of them, 4 demands have been met. They are: Madurai – Kollam national highway project, Chennai Metro Rail Phase II project, fishing harbour and seaweed park project and the mega textile park.
The state has started work on Chennai metro phase II and Madurai – Kollam national highway project. Union Home Minister Amit Shah, during his visit to Chennai in November 2020, had laid the foundation for phase II of Chennai Metro Rail. Besides, the bidding for Madurai-Kollam highway will open in the next two weeks.
A fillip for North Chennai
The phase-II of Chennai Metro Rail consists of three new lines namely Madhavaram – SIPCOT 2, Light House – Poonamallee Bus Depot and Madhavaram – Sholinganallur – a total distance of 118.9 km. This phase is expected to be open for public in 2025. The estimated cost of the project is Rs 61,843 crore.
Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman said in her Budget speech that the Centre will provide counterpart funding for phase II of Chennai metro. Since BJP national president JP Nadda officially declared continuation of the alliance with AIADMK at Madurai recently, the Prime Minister is likely to visit Chennai soon to inaugurate the extension of Phase I of Chennai Metro Rail.
“Electoral politics apart, such infrastructure projects definitely keep the economy moving. Government infrastructure definitely attracts supporting infrastructure ecosystem,” said Daniel Robinson, an urban expert.
South Chennai is comparatively better than North Chennai on urban infrastructure. However, after 2011, following the extension of Chennai Corporation, infrastructure development in North Chennai has improved substantially, Robinson said.
“The phase II of Chennai Metro Rail project covers a large part of North Chennai, which will bring additional investments from the private sector,” said Robinson.
‘Road project will boost regional economy’
The Madurai-Kollam highway project work will be carried out in two phases – one from Madurai – Rajapalayam and Rajapalayam – Sencottah and the second on Tamil Nadu – Kerala border.
“The first part will be carried out by national Highway Authority of India (NHAI) Madurai and the second will be taken up by NHAI Nagercoil. Land acquisition process for the first phase is in advanced stage and the rendering process will be carried in two weeks time,” said an NHAI official.
R Narayanaswamy, secretary, Rajapalayam Chamber of Commerce, said the four-lane Madurai – Kollam highway will develop Sencottah as an industrial hub.
“More than railways, it is the road connectivity that has the potential to develop a region’s economy. For example, a variety of goods from Rajapalayam are loaded into trains for Kerala. The railways is earning substantially by loading of goods. Imagine the economic potential of the region once the road connectivity improves,” Narayanaswamy said.
While the DMK and Congress have been critical of the Budget, the AMMK has welcomed some of the announcements. “These projects must be implemented immediately. They should not be kept idle like AIIMS project in Madurai,” said party chief TTV Dhinakaran.