residents welfare associations of Tiruchi-Thanjavur national highway decide to boycott the Lok Sabha election
The Federation for Retrieval of Tiruchi-Palpannai-Thuvakudi Service Roads, comprising about 40 residents welfare associations representing various colonies along the city stretch of the Tiruchi-Thanjavur national highway, has reiterated its decision to boycott the Lok Sabha election in protest against the “inordinate delay” in building service lanes along the highway between Ariyamangalam and Thuvakudi.
“We decided, at a consultative meeting of the federation held on February 22, to boycott the Lok Sabha election condemning the State government for its failure to commence the land acquisition process as per the Central government notification issued in May 2014. We will reconsider the decision only if the authorities begin the process of land acquisition for the service lanes. Over one lakh residents have been affected due to the absence of service lanes,” the federation organisers, S. Subramaniyan and S. Sakthivel, told reporters on Thursday.
The federation has been fighting for the construction of service lanes on the 14.5-km stretch ever since the National Highways Authority of India executed the four-laning project on the Tiruchi-Thanjavur national highway (NH-67) and the issue has been festering since 2009.
They pointed out that in May 2014, the Union Ministry of Road Transport and Highways issued a gazette notification for acquiring land required for the service lanes. But the State and Centre have not taken steps to implement the plan. Although the State government issued an order sanctioning ₹ 84.5 crore to be given towards compensation for the land to be acquired for the service lanes along the highway, the process of the land acquisition was yet to be taken up.
Following a series of agitations by members of the federation, the district administration had assured to take steps to begin the service lane work by October 2015 but it was yet to fulfil the promise. Mr. Sakthivel claimed that the Madurai High Court, while passing interim orders on a petition filed by the federation in 2016, had vacated an injunction obtained by the traders against the land acquisition and also instructed the government to begin “preliminary works.” However, the final verdict was still awaited.
The Chief Minister, while replying to a calling attention motion in the Assembly, had maintained that the government was waiting the final verdict. But now in his election campaign, he has promised to take steps to build the service lane even though his government has not taken any steps to begin the land acquisition process.
Mr. Subramaniyan regretted that the government was oblivious to the grave danger faced by the residents along the highway. Over 5,000 accidents, many of them fatal, have taken place along the highway stretch ever since it was four-laned, he said.
Answering a query, Mr. Subramaniyan and Mr .Sakthivel said that they had expressed their inability to participate in talks called by the Tiruverumbur Tahsildar on Thursday. Though the federation would participate in the talks, it would decide on the future course of action depending on the response of the officials.