The proposed Tripunithura bypass might have to be put in cold storage since delay in decision making by stakeholders increased the land acquisition cost by over 20 times during the past nine years.
The four-lane bypass is crucial to decongest the city and its eastern suburbs and the PWD (NH wing) had come up with a proposal to build 1.50 km of the 8-km-long bypass as an elevated highway over the Andhakaran canal. The cost of acquiring land along 3.50-km-long Mattakuzhi-Tiruvankulam stretch rose from Rs 6.57 crore in 2004 to Rs 130 crore in 2012. Based on this, PWD (NH wing) sent a revised estimate to the Union Ministry of Road Transport and Highways (MoRTH) in August 2012. The Ministry is yet to respond to it.
An official said the Ministry is “processing” the file. The PWD estimates that Rs 800 crore is required for acquiring a total of around 35 hectares of land for the bypass. A decade since the process began, only five hectares has been acquired.
“Any more delay will steeply increase the acquisition cost and the project might be a non-starter. If MoRTH is reluctant to provide funds, the State can pool in its funds and later claim it from the Centre, since Tripunithura’s narrow roads are congested beyond their maximum limit,” said a PWD official.
Another suggestion is that the State and Centre share the cost of developing the bypass, like what is being done for the Alappuzha and Kollam bypasses.
Despite huge delay and confusion, the Tripunithura Municipality and people’s representatives have done little to speed up the project.
Three alignments fixed earlier for the Tripunithura bypass were found unfeasible since they passed through thickly-populated areas. The present alignment begins from Gandhi Square and ends at Mattakuzhi near Thiruvankulam.
MoRTH handed over the bypass work to PWD (NH wing) following large-scale opposition to developing the road on a BOT basis, for which toll would be imposed. “Still, motorists might have to pay a nominal toll because of the prohibitive land acquisition cost and the spiralling construction cost.”
The PWD is awaiting MoRTH’s response to initiate further land acquisition.
Tripunithura Rajanagari Union of Residents’ Associations (TRURA) has, in the meantime, expressed concern at the delay in land acquisition for the bypass and to develop the narrow and congested Ettumanur-Tripunithura-Vyttila and Kundanoor-Pettah-Irumpanam roads. “Excise Minister K Babu had promised in 2012 that Tripunithura-Poothotta Road will be widened, but little has taken place,” said V.P. Prasad, the organisation’s chairman.
Its convenor Jayendran V.C. said that it took nearly 25 years to finally come up with an alignment that could have more acceptance with minimum displacement. The project was initially mooted by former Transport Minister K.P. Unnikrishnan in 1990. Many such road projects are hanging fire in and around Tripunithura, which is now choked with vehicles.
“The proposed Bund Road between Mamala and Irumpanam (on Seaport-Airport Road) is yet another important project that will reduce traffic to the town. The proposed bypass and the Bund Road together will take a heavy load off Tripunithura roads and also de-congest Hill Palace-Thiruvamkulam Road, he said.
C.N. Sundaran, opposition leader in the Tripunithura Municipal Council, said that the bypass is long overdue and should be completed as soon as possible.