The distance from Kanyakumari to Chennai is 750 kilometres. It is possible to drive from Kanyakumari to Chennai without entering any major city on the way. There are by passes everywhere. The mother of all by passes is coming up around Chennai which will enableyou to drive past the state capital.
"There are two unique things about this new green field bypass. One is that you don't have to pay toll. The second is a 22-meter gap between the lanes in the middle, for future expansion. Maybe a metro will come up there or a bus rapid transit system" says Sunil Paliwal, Managing Director of the Tamil Nadu Roadways Corporation.
Usually when a new road is built, the private sector benefits. Land owners on the roadside benefit as property prices rise. Also agricultural land automatically becomes commercial land near a highway. The government owns 50 meters along the side of the raod, which has been handed over to the Chennai Metropolitan Development Agency for further development. This land may used for residential or commercial purposes, but not for industry.
Chennai is a coastal city. This outer ring road will start from the East Coast Road coming from the south and encircle the city. It will finally meet up with the coastal road, north of the city.
The entire length when construction is complete will be 62 kms. In the first phase, 30 kms are being developed. The cost is estimated to be Rs. 864 crores. The construction should finish by 2012 and then the developer will have to maintain the road for a period of 17years. The government will pay for the maintenance of the road and thus sparing the motorits the burden of paying a toll.
The construction will start in February 2010. If the construction is delayed there is a penalty clause and if the construction is completed before the due date there is a bonus. A consortium of GMR and NTPC have won the tender. This model of payment and work is called Design, Build, Finance, Operate and Transfer.
A separate independent engineer will be appointed to ensure quality right from the design stage. The design will have to be approved by the independent engineer, who will also inspect every stage of construction.
"The builder will ensure quality as they have to maintain it for the next 20 years" says Sunil Paliwal confidentally. "Moreover they also have to put up lights of National Highway standard, maintain them and also pay the electricity charges".
Talking about the 22 meter gap in the middle of the 6-lane highway, Paliwal said. "The developer can use that only for drainage purposes. Even the lights will be on the lanes and not in the land in middle ".
Image: A sketch of the proposed outer ring road bypass.