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A few promises made in the 2016 manifesto have been fulfilled by the AIADMK government, while a few others are in limbo.

J Jayalalithaa announced several promises in the run up to the 2016 assembly elections. Jaya and EPS in the backdrop of the campaign crowd
news 2021 Tamil Nadu Assembly Election Friday, March 12, 2021 - 11:35

On May 5, 2016, late AIADMK supremo J Jayalalithaa released the party manifesto, making a host of promises that the party will fulfil if the people of Tamil Nadu voted them to power. The AIADMK came back to power and is ready to face the next Assembly election on April 6. Among the promises made by the then-Chief Minister and AIADMK General Secretary were several infrastructure projects that were aimed at ensuring water security to the state and better connectivity.

TNM looked at the 2016 manifesto of the AIADMK to analyse some of the major infrastructure promises made by the party. While a few promises made in the 2016 manifesto have been fulfilled by the AIADMK government which was taken over by Edappadi K Palaniswami after the demise of J Jayalalithaa, few other promises are yet to be fulfilled.

Here’s a list of major promises on water security and infrastructure made by the AIADMK in 2016.

Promise: Projects like methane extraction and shale gas which affect the farmers and agricultural areas including the Delta districts will not be permitted. Gas pipelines will not be allowed through agricultural lands.

Status: Partially fulfilled

One of the major steps taken towards protecting the agricultural areas including delta districts from exploratory projects like the methane and shale gas explorations is the declaration of delta districts as a ‘protected agricultural zone’ by Edappadi K Palaniswami. In February 2020, the Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu announced that Thanjavur, Thiruvarur and Nagapattinam districts will be known as a Protected Agricultural Zone. Apart from these, parts of Cuddalore (Kattumannarkoil, Melbhuvanagiri, Parangipettai, Keerapalayam and Kumaratchi) and Pudukottai (Aranthangi, Avudaiyarkoil, Manamelkudi, Thiruvarankulam and Karambakudi) districts have also been added to the demarcated zone.

The significance of this announcement was that exploratory projects, heavy metal industries like zinc, copper and iron smelter plants will be prohibited from being set up in this zone.

However, the Act does not mention what would happen to the projects that are currently underway.

Further, the state government in 2019, also assured that the GAIL pipeline from Coimbatore to Bengaluru will not affect farm lands.

Read: 5 things to know about Act declaring Cauvery delta a Protected Agricultural Zone

Promise: Steps will be taken to increase water level in Mullaiperiyar dam to 152 feet.

Status: Not fulfilled

In 2019, Chief Minister Edappadi K Palaniswami attributed the delay in raising the water level in Mullaperiyar dam to 152 feet from the current level of 142 feet, to the non-cooperation by the Kerala government. He said that while the committee set up by the Supreme Court has given a go-ahead to increase the height of the dam to 152 feet, the Kerala government has not yet agreed to it. However, he assured that his government will work towards implementing this recommendation.

Promise: Steps will be taken to urge the Union government to implement the linking of rivers Cauvery, Vaigai, Mahanadhi, Godavari, Krishna and Gundaru.

Status: Project launched

In February 2021, Chief Minister Edappadi K Palaniswami laid the foundation stone for the 262-km long river linking project that will interlink Cauvery, Vellaru, Vaigai and Gundaru rivers in the state. The project, expected to cost Rs 14,400 crore, will divert 6,300 cubic feet of surplus water during floods to the state’s southern districts to meet their drinking water needs.

However, the government of Karnataka has announced that it will approach the Supreme Court against this project since it allegedly is detrimental to the interests of Karnataka.

Read: Karnataka to move SC over TN's river-linking project

Promise: Will urge the Union government to implement the Pamba-Achankovil-Vaipaaru linking project.

Status: Not fulfilled

The scheme aims to divert around 634 million cubic metres of surplus water available in Kerala’s Pamba and Achankovil rivers to the water-starved Vaipaaru basin in Tamil Nadu. This would help in irrigating the rain-starved agricultural lands in Tirunelveli, Thoothukudi and Virudhunagar districts of Tamil Nadu.

As per reports, the feasibility report for the project was completed as early as 1995 and yet the project is yet to take off due to stand-off between the state governments of Kerala and Tamil Nadu. While Tamil Nadu claims that the project will just divert 20% of the surplus water from the two Kerala rivers, the government of Kerala is opposed to the project due to the need to take up construction that would have adverse impact in Kuttanad backwaters and Vembanad lake.

Promise: Measures to be taken to implement final order of Cauvery tribunal — meaning setting up of Cauvery Water Management Board and Regulatory authority.

Status: Fulfilled

In 2018, the Union Government set up the Cauvery Water Management Authority and a nine-member committee as per the order of the Supreme Court in the dispute on Cauvery water between Karnataka and Tamil Nadu. The Supreme Court had passed the final verdict in the inter-state river dispute in February 2018 and had given the Union Government six weeks’ time to set up the Cauvery Water Management Authority to administer its verdict. While the government of Karnataka refused to nominate a representative to the board, the Union government did not adhere to the timeline of six weeks. Finally the government of Tamil Nadu approached the Supreme Court for contempt of court against the Union government for delay in setting up of the authority, after which the Union government notified the authority in June.

Promise: Karnataka will not be allowed to construct a dam across Cauvery.

Status: Fulfilled

J Jayalalithaa, in the 2016-manifesto, was firm in not allowing Karnataka to build a dam across river Cauvery. In fact, in 2016, she had reminded the government of Karnataka about its promise that if it goes ahead with the idea of constructing the Mekedatu dam, it will first inform the Supreme Court. She was referring to a 2014-petition the government of Tamil Nadu had filed in Supreme Court seeking an order against the construction of the dam.

Fast forward to 2020, Chief Minister Edappadi K Palaniswami has repeatedly written to the Union Government not to provide environmental clearances of the dam at Mekedatu across Cauvery. As of September 2020, the government of Karnataka is yet to receive environmental clearance to construct the dam.

Promise: Athikadavu-Avinashi project will be executed.

Status: Project launched

The foundation stone for the Rs 1,800 crore project was laid by Chief Minister Edappadi Palaniswami in February 2019, 62 years after it was first proposed. The project entails diversion of surplus water from river Bhavani to the lakes and ponds and other water bodies in the Erode, Tiruppur and Coimbatore districts.

In June 2020, he announced that the first phase of the Athikadavu-Avinashi project will be completed by December 2021.

Read: How Rs 1800 cr Athikadavu-Avinashi project will tackle water needs in Tamil Nadu

Promise: Elevated highway will be raised from Meenambakkam to Chengalpattu.

Status: Not fulfilled

The project extending to around 36 km between Chennai airport to the Chengalpattu toll plaza was expected to commence by the end of financial year 2017-18. However, as of July 2019, the project is in a limbo due to its possibility of it being integrated with the Chennai Metro line’s extension from airport to Kilambakkam.

The proposed bus terminus in Kilambakkam has pushed the elevated corridor to the back burner with two other flyovers being constructed on the GST road.

Promise: Steps will be taken to convert Cuddalore harbour into deep sea harbour.

Status: Permission for project granted

After much delay, the project to expand Cuddalore port at a cost of Rs 135 crore received the Union government nod and the Coastal Regulatory Zone (CRZ) clearance in 2020.

Promise: Monorail system will be implemented in Chennai, Madurai, Trichy and Coimbatore.

Status: Partially fulfilled

The Chennai Monorail project received a nod from the Union government in 2018 and the Chennai Metro Rail Limited, in 2020, floated tenders for an 8 km stretch between Porur and Poonamallee which was earlier a part of the proposed Monorail project in Chennai. 

In Coimbatore, instead of a monorail system, the Chennai Metro Rail Limited submitted a preliminary report for a metro project extending to 136 kms in 2020. In the interim budget for the year 2021-22, the government of Tamil Nadu has allocated Rs 6,680 crore for the implementation of Coimbatore Metro project.

Promise: Rainwater drain system will be created in areas under Greater Chennai Corporation (GCC) limits.

Status: Project underway

The stormwater drain project under the Greater Chennai Corporation (GCC) limits is expected to be completed by 2023. The preliminary work on the 785-km long project started in 2020 and is expected to cost around Rs 2,300 crore.

Promise: Chennai Metro services will be extended till Airport. Extension works from Washermanpet to Wimco nagar are in progress.

Status: Fulfilled

The Chennai Metro line till Airport from Washermanpet is fully functional and was inaugurated in September 2016. The line extension from Washermanpet to Wimco Nagar was inaugurated in February 2021. 

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