Company promises bridge for Thanthonnithuruth as part of its larger plans on island

Left marooned on their island for decades by agencies responsible for their well being, a section of the residents of Thanthonnithuruth is pinning their hopes on the promise of a Bangalore-based private company to construct a bridge connecting their island with the city.

The proposal of the company to construct the bridge as part of its larger plan to set up a knowledge city-like project on the island, had come before the 26th general council meeting of the Goshree Islands Development Authority (GIDA). The company, it is learnt, had bought around 35 to 40 acres of land on the island.

The proposal for the bridge has been sent to the corporation and the chief town planner. Thef inal approval will have to come from the State government after taking into account these recommendations.

Sanction for the larger proposal of the company will be hard to come by considering the present ecological status of the island. This is reflected in the position adopted by GIDA, which said the proposal may be considered subjected to technical feasibility regarding traffic and change of land use.

The structural plan – 2001 prepared and sanctioned for the development of the central city and surrounding region identified the island as a recreation or open space area. This has been retained in the draft master plan for the Kochi region and the master plan for GIDA. Besides, the island falls under the CRZ II category, where constructions are subjected to strict conditions.

The junction where the proposed bridge meets the Goshree-Chathiyath Road should be suitably designed to cope with the increased traffic. More importantly, GIDA insists that the bridge should be opened to the public free of cost.

GIDA, meanwhile, has its own land reconstitution schemes for the Pullekkad, Thanthonnithuruth, and Korongotta islands. Thanthonnithuruth will be the first to benefit if the scheme gets going, which will also meet the islanders' long-standing demand for a bridge.

According to the concept, GIDA proposes to take over the entire land from the islanders for the development of the island. Once the island is developed, GIDA proposes to return a certain extent of the land it had taken over to the owners depending on the investment involved. While owners with small landholdings may get back the same extent of land, it need not be in the same area.

GIDA considers it a win-win proposal to everyone concerned based on the assessment that land value will go up by 40 times once the island is developed and it is linked to the city. As per a tentative reconstitution proposal, GIDA will return about 20 per cent of the land to the owners, which comes to about 12 hectares while the remaining 41 hectares will enable the agency to meet the development cost, approach bridges, and development of various public amenities. GIDA proposes to convene a meeting of the landowners once it has a concrete proposal at its disposal.

However, islanders are not very enthused by the proposal that entails them surrendering their entire stretch of land to GIDA.

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