Little did the residents of 12 farming villages near Tiruvannamalai town know that a scheduled visit by Chief Minister M.K. Stalin to Malappambadi village on October 22 would decide the destiny of the poorly maintained Kunniyandal Main Road. Ahead of the Chief Minister’s visit, the State Highways took up work to widen and re-lay the road near Tiruvannamalai town after a gap of several years.
Various stakeholders, including the Department of Highways which maintains the nine-km long muddy stretch as Other District Road (ODR), were informed a month ago about Mr. Stalin’s scheduled visit to Malappambadi village to attend a workshop organised by the DMK for Booth Committee Agents (BLA) from eight northern districts.
Following this, the State Highways, under the guidance of Minister for Public Works and Highways E.V. Velu, took up work to widen and re-lay the Kunniyandal Main Road ahead of the visit by the Chief Minister. A team of surveyors took road measurements. Bushes up to a distance of 10 feet on either sides of the stretch spanning nine kilometres were removed to facilitate the road widening work and avoid any obstructions.
As part of the work, the carriageway was raised one feet higher from the existing level of the road with blue metal to ensure durability. Shoulders were also strengthened to reduce chances of vehicles skidding off the road. The existing carriageway was widened to 5.5 metres with adequate culverts on the route. A provision for LED street lights was also provided.
“The road widening work will not only connect farming villages with the temple town of Tiruvannamalai but also ease traffic congestion on the Cuddalore-Chittoor Highway as motorists would start opting for this stretch to reach nearby towns and districts,” said an official of State Highways.
The nine kilometre-long stretch was a muddy pathway that remained a key thoroughfare for students, farmers, farm workers and traders from at least 12 farming villages, including Kunniyandal, Vallivasal, Malappambadi, Sanarpalayam and Aniyanthangal. With asbestos-roofed houses abutting either sides, the Kunniyandal Main Road leads up to lush paddy fields.
“Earlier, we used to take sick and pregnant women to hospitals on two-wheelers and in autorickshaws as ambulances hesitated to navigate through the poorly maintained stretch. Many times have tractors laden with paddy hulls from the villages been stuck on the stretch. That ordeal has come to an end,” said S. Veerapandi, a farmer in Vallivagai village.
In the first phase of the work, a stretch of three kilometres of the total of nine kilometres was widened. Work on the remaining stretch is underway. The widened stretch will help ease traffic snarls at Avalurpet Road junction which connects Tiruvannamalai town with the Cuddalore-Chittoor Highway.
Once the work on the remaining stretch is completed, visitors to Vandavasi, Cheyyar and Kancheepuram could hit the widened Kunniyandal Main Road instead of the highway.