Sixty-six coaches meant for Kochi Metro’s 22 trains would arrive here, beginning December 2014. But hardly 10 per cent of the work to level the ground at the coach-maintenance yard at Muttom near Aluva has been completed.
The filling of fallow land came to a standstill a couple of days ago after a section of residents of the locality opposed the transportation of mud to the site. They alleged that the constant transportation of around 300 loads of mud every night was damaging the narrow access road to the yard. The tipper lorries with their load were sent back.
Sources associated with the project said the yard had to be filled with 4 lakh cubic metres of mud and levelled by December. “But just around 38,000 cubic metres of mud has been transported till now. A few people are opposing the work, despite our promise that any damage caused to the road will be repaired by us. District Collector Sheikh Pareeth has promised all help to defuse the crisis.”
Only after filling the land can work begin to lay tracks, construct a workshop, coach-cleaning area and allied buildings. “All these must be ready by December 2014. Tenders have been invited and metro coaches cannot be parked on the road. Fifty per cent of filling works could have been completed before the rains, but for issues and pressure tactics by vested interests which are delaying the work,” sources said.
Labourers at the yard are forced to remain idle because of the situation. The DMRC’s Principal Advisor E. Sreedharan had warned of the project cost rising by around Rs.40 lakh, for each day’s delay in commissioning the project.
The DMRC is learnt to have informed the Kochi Metro Rail Limited (KMRL) and the district administration of the hassles faced in filling the site.
In the meantime, the DMRC has readied a proposal to construct an underpass beneath the adjacent railway line. But this will be ready only after about a year. The underpass will provide a permanent link to the yard, helping transport men and materials.
Till then, access to the site will be through the stretch leading to the yard from Aluva Pump House Junction and on the southern side, through NAD Road. As per plan, all civil works, including construction of the yard, metro’s 25-km-long viaduct and stations in the route ought to be over within another 22 months. The last year will be set apart for installation of tracks, power lines, signals and allied infrastructure. The DMRC has fixed March 2016 as the deadline to commission the metro.
KMRL sources said the agency would step in if the situation warrants.
Delays like the one at the yard and undue interference from construction worker/head load labour unions at the metro’s casting yard in HMT and other work sites is already playing haywire with the project’s schedule.
“We scheduled 12 hours work at the casting yard each day, since the rains have taken a break. But undue interference and threats from union leaders are affecting the pace of works. Little to they understand that this is not a standalone project and trains have to begin running from March 2016,” sources said.
Director Board meet
In the meantime, KMRL’s director board will meet here on August 27. The agenda is being finalised. The meeting may take a call on extending the metro up to Tripunithura in the project’s phase one.