The National Highway Administration of India has decided to invest 1,842 crore rupees to build a new Phamban road bridge connecting Ramanathapuram and Rameshwaram-Danushkodi. The new highway bridge is 1.880 kilometers long and is part of a project to transform National Road 49 (NH-49) from Paramakudi to Dhanushkodi into a four-lane road. It will be built on the Ecologically Sensitive Zone (ESZ) of the Mannar Bay Marine National Park. The bridge will be built to the south of the existing two-lane Annai Indira Gandhi Bridge, which has become congested due to increased traffic. The project requires approximately 370 hectares of land, of which more than 9 hectares are part of the ESZ of Mannar Bay Marine National Park. MS Pandian, the director of the NHAI project, has submitted an application to the Standing Committee of the National Wildlife Commission to seek wildlife clearance.
The newly-built four-lane bridge is located about 100 meters south of the existing bridge and is a two-lane bridge with a balanced cantilever. It is impossible to widen it into four lanes. The design and spacing of the proposed bridge allows for future upgrades to six or even eight lanes. NHAI has promised to the federal government that the project is not suitable for preparing biodiversity impact assessment reports because the proposed bridge in ESZ requires less than 50 hectares.
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