Many overbridge and road projects in the city are becoming non-starters as the State government and the Kochi Corporation are scouting for funds to acquire land for the projects. The Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission (JNNURM) funds only cover the projects’ construction cost.
On an average, a two-lane overbridge can be built for less than Rs.15 crore. But land acquisition and rehabilitation costs within the city may work out to around Rs.100 crore, which is around seven times the project’s cost.
The cost of land acquisition for a two-lane overbridge proposed at Atlantis works out to over Rs.100 crore. Similar is the case with Pachalam overbridge. Both the projects are hanging fire for over a decade, causing hardships to commuters. In the case of Thammanam-Pullepady Road, the cost of building a tarred road is just over Rs.20 crore, while expenditure for acquiring land at 18 metre width works out to over Rs.100 crore. The project cost for Goshree-Mamangalam Road is over Rs.23 crore, while widening the narrow stretch into four or two lane will cost more.
Chairman of the corporation’s town planning committee and former Mayor K.J. Sohan suggested narrowing down of four-lane bridges to two-lane wherever possible so that land acquisition is minimal. “Cost of land acquisition can further be brought down if bridges are built at 1:20 gradient – an elevation of a metre for every 20 metre distance,” he said.
The gradient as per JNNURM norms is 1:30, which would increase the bridge’s length. Though this specification ensures a less-steep bridge, the area of land to be acquired increases.
“Dilution of norms might result in denial of JNNURM funds. Even then, the financial liability on State government and the civic agency concerned would be much lesser for each project,” he said.