The Hindu , 07 February 2006

Dredging Corporation may bag second phase of Sethu project

MADURAI: The Centre is planning to give the second phase of dredging work to the Dredging Corporation of India, since bidders, who took part in the global tendering process have quoted exorbitant rates, Union Minister for Shipping, Road Transport and Highways T.R. Baalu said.

Inaugurating the work on four-laning of the Madurai-Melur-Tiruchi NH-45B at Melur near here on Monday, Mr. Baalu said one bidder had even sought Rs. 250 crore in advance for carrying out three works in the Palk Bay.

The Corporation, entrusted with the fourth work, had completed dredging of 30 lakh cubic metres. It would be given the second work in the Palk Bay very soon. However, Mr. Baalu said the work would be completed as per schedule, despite the delay in starting work in other stretches.

Mr. Baalu said he had instructed the contractors to complete the four-laning of the 124.80 km Madurai-Melur-Tiruchi stretch in 24 months, ahead of the 30-month contract period.

Rs. 541 crore scheme

The scheme, which will be executed at a cost of Rs. 541 crore, envisaged construction of a major bridge, 14 minor bridges, a road overbridge and six by-passes. "Though the four-laning works were inaugurated during the previous National Democratic Alliance Government, the actual execution began only during the present UPA Government."

As for a representation from Madurai Mayor C. Ramachandran to lay the second phase of the Inner Ring Road connecting the Madurai-Melur highway with the Madurai-Dindigul highway, Mr. Baalu said his Department would soon initiate a feasibility study.

The speakers, including Mr. Baalu, used the occasion to seek votes for the United Progressive Alliance to install a government in Tamil Nadu favourable to the Union Government, so that the State benefited the most.

State criticised

Mr. Baalu alleged that the State Government was trying to stall the expansion of the Tuticorin port. However, the work would be completed at any cost.

Union Minister of State for Home Affairs S. Regupathy; Minister of State for Shipping, Road Transport and Highways K.H. Muniyappa; MPs R. Shunmugasundaram and K.C. Palanisamy; and the former MP, A. G. S. Rambabu, spoke.