Opposition protests against the revised overbridge plan

The re-designed proposal for Pachalam rail overbridge drawn up by the Delhi Metro Rail Corporation finally received the nod of the Kochi Corporation at a council meeting held here on Monday that witnessed an uproar due to the vociferous protest of opposition councillors.

The proposal missed a unanimous backing despite Mayor Tony Chammany’s best of efforts as the opposition insisted on voting in which 23 of its councillors registered their protest against the proposal while the two BJP members also voted against it.

The matter will now be referred to the State Cabinet. DMRC will take up the project when the Cabinet clears it. The revised plan of Pachalam rail overbridge by the DMRC suggests a width of 7.5 metres alongside a footpath of 1.5 metres.

The Railways is expected to bear half the estimated project cost of Rs. 33 crore. Just 52 cents of land need to be acquired for the project.

The proposal was slated as one of the items on the agenda in the previous council meeting but had to be dropped after the opposition staged a walkout in protest. Things were not any better on Monday as the opposition councillors were on their feet with heated arguments. Apparently, the opposition was not amused by what they perceived as the unilateral move by the town planning standing committee chairman to place the proposal for the approval of the council after a site visit without registering the objection of opposition members in the committee.

CPI (M) councillors M. Anilkumar, N.A. Shafeeq, K.V. Manoj, and V.A. Sreejith were the most vocal in their criticism against the alleged unilateral move of the town planning committee.

Opposition leader K.J. Jacob alleged that the committee chairman's decision not to register the dissent of the CPI councillor C.A. Shakeer during the site inspection was against the accepted procedures.

The opposition councillors were in favour of an earlier proposal under the Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission that recommended a 22-metre-wide overbridge. The opposition alleged that Goshree-Mamangalam approach road and related facilities got lost in the new proposal.

Mr. Chammany, however, tried to placate the opposition by drawing their attention to the absence of financial commitments for the corporation under the new proposal of DMRC. He reasoned that the Goshree-Mamangalam Road can still be constructed with slight re-designing.

More In: Kochi