Foundation for work laid three years ago

The reconstruction of the century-old Vallakadavu bridge across the Parvathy Puthanar at an estimated cost of Rs.6 crore is hanging fire even though the foundation stone for the work was laid three years ago.

Though the then Minister for Public Works M. Vijayakumar laid the foundation stone for the bridge in 2011 at the initiative of local legislator and his Cabinet colleague V. Surendran Pillai, the reconstruction work has failed to take off till date.

One among 7 oldest

The National Transportation Planning and Research Centre (Natpac) declared the bridge ‘age-old’ after a survey of the bridges in the State capital in August, 1996. The bridge is among the seven oldest bridges in the State.

Local residents expressed concern over the plan prepared for the new bridge. Apprehensions have been raised about the width of the approach road and the bridge. The delay will also necessitate revision of the estimate as prices of construction materials have gone up.

According to the National Waterways norms, the new bridge should be at least seven metres above the water level and 30m wide.

The bridge is at present four metres high and 11 metres wide. Since the Kollam-Kovalam route falls under the National Waterway No. 3, the new bridge has to be built according to the prescribed norms to facilitate passage of boats under the bridge.

The Vallakadavu-Vayyamoola Joint Action Council pointed out that the local residents were concerned about the condition of the dilapidated bridge. A. Soifudeen Haji and N. Vikraman Nair, chairman and convenor respectively of the council, urged the Works Minister V.K. Ebrahim Kunju to convene a high-level meeting to expedite the work.

Trucks from the Food Corporation of India godown at Valiyathura and other private godowns at Vallakadavu use this route to reach the city. The Arat procession of the Sree Padmanabhaswamy temple also move through the bridge to reach Shanghumughom.

The council said that a temporary bridge should be constructed for the passage of Arat and movement of local people when work on the new bridge was taken up. The Kowdiar Palace has also demanded that steps be taken to ensure that the Arat moved though its traditional path to reach the beach.

The council also demanded fair value for the land to be acquired for the approach to the bridge.

The chairman of the council said a separate package should be worked out for those surrendering land and shops for the reconstruction of the bridge.

If the reconstruction of the bridge was delayed, the existing one should be strengthened using modern technology. The chairman said the Puthenpalam and Ponnara bridges should be strengthened to lessen the traffic through the Vallakadavu bridge.