It was the year when Chennai, chanting the mantra of Metro Rail, turned to the monorail along with the change in power equations in the State. As debates raged over what could be the better option for the city, the expansion of the Metro Rail came to a standstill and the Monorail became a preferred solution with many terming the Metro Rail project a cost intensive one that would take considerable time for completion.
The other argument put forth by the AIADMK government was that with Chennai coming under seismic zone III, the safety of the passengers on the Metro Rail would be under threat as the passage for the rail would be underground. Even as borers arrived earlier this month to drill the underground stretch of the Metro Rail — an action shrouded by protests with residents fearing the boring would affect their buildings — the State government formulated a plan for the first phase of the monorail. A criss-crossing network of four monorail corridors with a length of 111 Km was planned. Interestingly, this will be largest Monorail network in the world. It is believed it will also have the longest network of a 54 Km link between Vandalur and Puzhal.
The corridors were identified by Pallavan Transport Consultancy Services Ltd and bids have been invited to build a monorail network along the four corridors — Vandalur to Puzhal via Avadi; Vandalur to Velachery via Tambaram East (23 Km); Poonamallee to Kathipara via Porur (18 Km); and Poonamallee to Vadapalani via Valasarawakkam (16 Km).
Meanwhile, the Metro Rail project, which was chugging along smoothly during the DMK regime with plans for eight more corridors, was facing pressure over land acquisition, conservation of heritage structures and continuous traffic jams — the last having become a part and parcel of Chennai life.
Land acquisition near the airport, parks of the Chennai Corporation, Koyambedu market and Pachaiyappa’s College was not smooth for the Metro Rail project, which also had to face protests from environmentalists and land owners besides enduring courtroom dramas. Although, nearly all the land was acquired for the project, a blow came in the form of a change in alignment after environmental activists and students opposed the metro station in Pachaiyappa’s College.
The Metro Rail is soon expected to move on to the construction of elevated structures. With the day not far when Chennaiites can choose to travel by Metro Rail or monorail, besides buses, all thank must go to the State’s political masters for offering numerous options for public transport.