Jaya's monorail project on hold

Notwithstanding the warnings from experts that the transport system was not economically feasible, late J Jayalalithaa went ahead and announced a monorail project to connect Chennai with its suburbs on two ends.

Years later, wisdom seems to have dawned upon the AIADMK dispensation that monorail was not the answer to the transportation woes of Chennai city and its suburbs.

On Tuesday, Electricity Minister P Thangamani gave enough indications that monorail project would not see the light of the day and it has been given a quiet burial.

“Monorail project to de-congest Chennai was conceived by late Amma (Jayalalithaa) long back. Due to non-availability of land and extension of Metro rail network across Chennai, a policy decision has been taken to put on hold the project for now,” he told the Assembly.

Thangamani was responding to a question from DMK MLA Anbil Mahesh on the status of the monorail project from Vandalur on the highway connecting Chennai with Thiruchirapalli and down south cities and Velachery within the city.

The announcement by the minister came as criticism mounts in Tamil Nadu that the Edappadi K Palaniswami government was slowly dumping Jayalalithaa's legacy and leaning towards the BJP.

Earlier, the AIADMK government had approved projects like UDAY scheme and Maduravoyal-Chennai Port elevated Expressway that Jayalalithaa opposed.

Jayalalithaa had planned to construct two corridors, Poonamallee to Kathipara Junction with a link from Porur to Vadapalani (20.68 km) and Vandalur to Velachery (22.80 km) under PPP and other funding models. She was determined to go ahead with the project till her death in 2016.

The monorail was one of the pet projects of Jayalalithaa announced during her second tenure (2001-2006), but was put on the back-burner by the DMK dispensation which toyed with the idea of Metro rail network. Though Jayalalithaa was opposed to the Metro system, she implemented the project and threw open two corridors in 2015 and 2016. Currently, Chennai Metro has a network of around 35 km.

Jayalalithaa wanted to go ahead with monorail project despite warnings from top technocrats, including former Delhi Metro chief E Sreedharan, who had red flagged it citing non-feasibility. Sreedharan, a strong votary of Metro rail, maintains that monorail is not a good form of mass transportation since it has only one-third capacity of a metro while the cost is the same.

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