Widening of Old Collectorate-Vanchiyoor road to begin soon
Decks have been cleared for the four-laning of the busy Old Collectorate-Vanchiyoor road under the City Road Improvement Project (CRIP) with the Forest Department giving the nod for felling 16 rain trees on the 300-metre stretch.
Work has been stalled for five years as environmentalists and tree lovers had come out in protest against the felling of 53 rain trees, near the Amayizhanjan canal on the stretch, as part widening the road, an alternative corridor for the arterial road extending from RR Lamp to East Fort.
Hundreds of residents, who had been hit by the delay in road widening, under the leadership of local councillors, had been campaigning for the felling of the trees and widening of the stretch.
The Thiruvananthapuram Road Development Company Limited (TRDCL), the concessionaire of CRIP, had rejected the proposal of N.S. Srinivasan, Advisor to CRIP, to create a 4 to 5-m wide and 250-m long median island in between the bidirectional carriageway so as to save the trees.
“We have received the nod from the Forest Department to cut 16 rain trees. The felling of trees began on Wednesday. The remaining 37 will be retained in the median to be erected on the stretch. The road safety issues involved are yet to be assessed,” a project official told The Hindu.
As there were no takers for the tenders floated by the Public Works Department, the project officials and residents led by councillors and TRDCL officials took up the task of felling the trees and pooling in the money required. “We hope to complete the felling of trees by this weekend and commence the four-laning work soon,” the official added.
When work on CRIP began seven years ago, the trees had a girth of less than 30 cm, the minimum required for a plant to qualify as a tree. Permission was not required then to fell the trees. But the Forest Department had hesitated to cut the trees down fearing the wrath of environmentalists.
As part of the widening, the canal on the stretch will be covered with pre-stressed double-box-like culverts to allow motor vehicles to pass through. Two 3x2 m box-like culverts with a wall in between will be laid on the stretch taking into account the needs of the Kerala Sustainable Urban Development Project in the future.
The project officials are concerned about the close excavation required as the entire ‘nullah’ (gully) has shifted to the western side. Dozens of lawyers’ offices are situated close to the canal. Two sewerage lines in the canal also needed to be removed before the canal was covered with slabs, the official said.
The 600-m stretch from Vanchiyoor Junction to Pattoor has already been developed.
The residents are now demanding that the canal in the stretch also be covered with box-like culverts so that it can be used as carriageway.