Pachalam overbridge plan facing hurdles: Chammany

Kochi needs a special package for implementing the road projects as shortage of funds has stalled many schemes in the city, said Mayor Tony Chammany on Friday.

Responding to the criticism by the High Court of Kerala while considering a petition on the proposed Pachalam Road overbridge, that the local body was forgetting its responsibilities, Mr. Chammany said the project could not be implemented for want of funds.

Talking to mediapersons, Mr. Chammany, who welcomed the court’s intervention regarding the project, said that the State government had not provided the local body the funds for acquiring land for the project. Going by the 2007 estimate, it required Rs. 91 crore for acquiring 9 acre for the project which includes the land required for rehabilitation of the evictees.

The cost of procuring land would have gone up manifold since then. The corporation considered reducing the width of the project following opposition from the local residents and shortage of funds, he said.

The project is unlikely to get support from the Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission if its width is reduced. Moreover, the mission project was nearing its final stages. The government could implement it as its own project as it won’t be possible to get support from the mission anymore, he said.

The Road Fund Board seemed to have abandoned the 17 road projects it has mooted for Kochi whereas it had completed the projects in the State capital. The projects of the board were progressing in Kozhikode, the third city which was selected for the projects, he said.

The State government should loosen its purse strings for supporting the city in implementing road development projects failing which the Kochi Metro rail project would flop.

The absence of a feeder transport system will add to traffic snarls in the city. It should be developed simultaneously with the metro project, he said.

Complaint against Transport Ministry

Criticising the “ageing policy makers,” who were “reluctant to change with the changing times” Mr. Chammany said that the local body would complain to the Ministry of Urban Development against the State Transport Ministry which violated the Central guidelines on JNNURM buses.

Kochi would not get any new buses for improving the public transport system as the State transport department violated the Central norm of forming a Special Purpose Vehicle for running the fleet of vehicles. The buses, which were intended to be run in the Kochi city and the Kochi urban agglomerate, were diverted to be operated as inter-district buses against the Central norm. The Ministry had even suggested some business models for operating the buses in a profitable way. The department blatantly violated all the norms resulting in the city being denied new buses, he complained.

Kochi was free of flooding this monsoon season thanks to the effective pre-monsoon works implemented in the city. The city remained free of flood waters even as monsoon showers resulted in heavy flooding in the neighbouring local bodies including Aluva municipality, he said.

K.J. Sohan and Soumini Jain, Chairpersons of Standing Committees of the Kochi Corporation, were present.

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