To tame the prohibitive cost of land acquisition, Thammanam-Pullepady Road will be widened to 18 metres and not 22 metres as planned earlier.
The inordinate delay in acquiring land and the alleged apathy of the Kochi Corporation have pushed up the cost of land acquisition to over Rs. 100 crore, whereas road construction is estimated to cost less than Rs 15 crore.
“The decision to reduce the width will considerably cut down the cost of land acquisition. The State government will give Rs. 25 crore more for the project. (Another Rs. 25 crore had been allotted for the project about three years ago.) The PWD will execute the road project (which will further be extended up to the northern part of MG Road and on the eastern side up to the Palarivattom-Vyttila NH Bypass),” Transport Minister Aryadan Mohammed told reporters, following a detailed review meeting of Kochi Metro Rail and other infrastructure projects in Kochi. Chief Minister Oommen Chandy chaired the meeting.
Mayor Tony Chammany agreed to take up the proposal with Corporation Council for the handing over of this road to PWD.
The stakeholders also decided to catalyse land acquisition for widening Vyttila-Pettah Road into four lanes so that DMRC can begin piling and other civil works for the metro.
A total of 3.01 hectares of land has to be acquired, for which Rs. 20 crore was set apart in the budget. “Rs. 70 crore more will be sanctioned soon and another Rs. 30 crore by April. The land acquisition process will be completed by March 2014,” Mr. Mohammed said.
To a question on the delay in taking a decision on extending the metro up to Tripunithura from Pettah, he said “this will be done possibly in metro’s phase one.”
Taking note of the water authority’s delay in relocating pipelines from the centre of SA Road, stakeholders at the meeting directed the agency to commence the work from November 9 and complete it within 60 days. The authority’s delay has been holding up metro’s civil works along SA Road.
Mr. Mohammed said government agencies should coordinate better so that metro, road and other projects were not delayed.
To a question on when lanes 2 and 3 of North overbridge will be commissioned, DMRC’s Principal Advisor E. Sreedharan said this would be done latest by the first week of December when metro rail pillars that pass through the centre too were ready. (Work on the bridge’s approach portions too is under way.)
When asked about the college management’s opposition to stationing metro’s operation control centre and station at St. Albert’s College ground near international stadium, he said the matter did not figure in Thursday’s talks.
On widening South overbridge, Mr. Mohammed said this was under the government’s active consideration. “We have agreed to the proposal in principle and funds will be earmarked in the coming budget.” It was decided that land acquisition for eastern approach of the bridge will be completed along with metro’s land acquisition.
Mr. Mohammed cited the need to source river sand for the Metro Rail construction to “ensure durability of all civil structures”. For this, 4 lakh cubic metres of river sand will be sourced from Bharatapuzha and Periyar. The State cabinet will decide on according special sanction for this.
On the possible adverse impact on the environment, he said this new aspect would be included in the studies that are under way. “A total ban on sand mining will affect construction works.”
It was also decided to widen the culvert in front of PVS Hospital in Kaloor. On augmenting water transportation in Kochi city under JNNURM scheme, stakeholders said city-water buses between Vyttila and Kakkanad would commence service in November. The proposal seeking funding for Kochi’s proposed new city-water buses under JNNURM would be submitted to the Ministry of Urban Development in a month.