The development of Goshree-Mamangalam Road as a corridor parallel to Banerjee Road might become a non-starter unless Kochi Corporation and State government set the land acquisition process rolling.
No progress has been made to widen the narrow 5-km-long corridor from Chatiath church to Mamangalam near Palarivattom over a decade since the project was mooted. Land acquisition is yet to begin despite the State government giving the nod to acquire land by invoking the urgency clause. Though conceived as a four-lane road, the corporation decided to hew out a two-lane road because of the massive cost of land acquisition. Even this work has not begun.
The corporation has a gruelling task at hand since delay on its part resulted in the estimated cost of land acquisition rising to around Rs. 300 crore, from less than Rs.100 crore a few years ago. The proposed corridor was envisaged to decongest the arterial Banerjee Road that provides east-west connectivity and hence is the preferred route of public transport buses and private vehicles.
The work on the new road is crucial since civil works of Kochi Metro will be undertaken for another 22 months along Banerjee Road, for which traffic regulations will be in place.
The Goshree Islands Development Authority (GIDA) had built a 1.50-km-long four-lane road from the entry point to the first Goshree bridge up to Chatiath church, on land reclaimed from the backwaters.
A senior GIDA official spoke of the urgent need to widen the extremely narrow strip of the road near the church since motorists coming from the four-lane road often meet with accidents here. “Construction of a two-lane road from the church to Mamangalam will help to decongest Banerjee Road and all junctions from Mamangalam to High Court Junction. Buses too could begin service along the new road. While encroachers will have to be removed, adequate compensation will have to be given to those who surrender their house or a portion of it,” he said.
While hoping that the project will not be shelved for want of land, a high-ranking corporation official said that matters would have been easier had land been acquired well in advance. “Land acquisition for the road and the two-lane Pachalam overbridge can be set in motion only if the State government provides funds for the purpose. For constructing the corridor, Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission (JNNURM) funds can be availed”.
Despite the pressing need to augment east-west connectivity in the city, the civic agency is yet to evolve an action plan for breathing life into the project.