Meeting convened by CM will address issue, says KMRL chief
Activists of CPI(M) and others blocked metro work sites in Kaloor on Monday protesting against the inordinate delay by the State government, the Kochi Metro Rail Limited (KMRL) and the district administration in widening narrow roads along the metro alignment.
Former deputy mayor C.K. Manisankar spoke of how roads have not been widened in many parts of the alignment, though owners had surrendered land without demanding compensation. “As a result, traffic snarls have become the norm in the city, affecting thousands of commuters, pedestrians and traders whose business has been badly hit,” he said.
In the wake of the agitation and the proposed march by the CPI (M) and the AIYF to the KMRL office on Tuesday demanding steps to prevent traffic going haywire near metro work sites, Minister for Power and Railways Aryadan Mohammed said he was willing to convene an all-party meeting to discuss the issue.
Minister for Excise and Ports K. Babu and Mayor Tony Chammany have termed the agitation politically motivated.
Sources said the Delhi Metro Rail Corporation (DMRC) had to reduce the width of barricades from the mandatory eight metres in places such as Deshabhimani Junction, since the KMRL and the district administration had failed to remove bottlenecks and widen narrow portions of the road where traffic hold-ups were the norm.
DMRC’s Principal Advisor E. Sreedharan and others had recently condemned the delay in widening roads in the metro corridor and the apathy of the KMRL, the district administration and the civic agencies in developing alternative roads.
“As the special purpose vehicle floated to clear the decks for metro construction, the KMRL should have coordinated with different government departments and taken pro-active measures to ensure smooth flow of vehicles,” sources said.
Reacting to concerns over problems faced by commuters and pedestrians, KMRL’s managing director Elias George said a meeting to be convened by Chief Minister Oommen Chandy on Wednesday would probe ways to clear bottlenecks.
“The meeting will chalk out steps to speed up widening of Thammanam-Pullepady Road and Vyttila-Pettah Road — two roads that will augment east-west connectivity. The meeting will finalise plans on the KMRL directly purchasing land from owners through negotiation.”
Another area of focus will be procuring funds for kick-starting work on Edappally flyover and Pachalam overbridge.
Taking possession of 98 cents of land near the Jawaharlal Nehru international stadium, which was leased out to St. Albert’s College, for establishing a metro station will also be discussed. Steps would be taken to finalise Kochi’s Unified Metropolitan Transport Authority (UMTA) Act, Mr. Elias said.
He added that concerns voiced by the DMRC on traffic curbs on the approach road to HMT yard that was being concrete topped would also be discussed at the meeting.
The DMRC was concerned about transporting pre-cast pillar caps and girders from the yard to work sites in the event of traffic curbs being imposed. The tiff between metro stakeholders and the traffic police on optimal deployment of traffic wardens and issues related to their wages might also figure in Wednesday’s talks.