A Division Bench of the Kerala High Court on Monday asked the Kochi Corporation to bring the demand for construction of a railway overbridge at Pachalam to the notice of the State government.

The Bench comprising Chief Justice Manjula Chellur and Justice A.M. Shaffique made the observation when a petition filed by a group of lawyers residing in Pachalam came up for hearing.

Meanwhile, the Kochi Corporation sought 10 more days to file a response to the petition seeking a directive to take steps to construct a railway overbridge.

The lawyers said that the frequent closure of the railway gate at Pachalam was causing great difficulties to the residents. The corporation was consistently ignoring the demand for an overbridge at Pachalam. This was due to pressures exerted by some influential persons. The Railways had offered to meet 50 per cent of the cost of the construction of an overbridge. There was also a proposal to construct a roundabout at Pachalam jointly by the Railways, Cochin Port Trust and Goshree Island Development Authority (GIDA) sharing the cost in the ratio of 50, 30, and 17 per cent respectively. However, the corporation had sabotaged the proposal by suggesting that it could be implemented under the Jawaharlal National Urban Renewal Mission (Jnnurm). However, no steps had been taken by the corporation so far. Though a general alignment plan had been prepared, it had not made any attempt to acquire land for the project.

An overbridge at Pachalam has been a longstanding demand of the residents. The Action Council for the ROB recently threatened to exercise the option of negative voting in all elections in the future unless the politicians and authorities concerned addressed their demand. The council had pointed out that the presence of two railway gates within a distance of 548 metres caused a slew of problems including death of patients after getting stuck at the railway gates while being rushed to the nearby hospital.

The corporation’s claim that it was unaware of the presence of a sketch for the proposed ROB submitted by KITCO under the Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission and that it did not have any funds to execute it was unacceptable. The demand of the people for the ROB that entails an investment of less than Rs.100 crore could no longer be turned down with the Railway promising 50 per cent of the project cost, the action council had said.

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