Complex to rehabilitate traders, bus stand planned

Two acres of land on the sprawling five-and-a-half acre campus of the 125-year-old Government Central School at Attakulangara was handed over to the Thiruvananthapuram Development Authority (TRIDA) on Thursday to set up a three-storey commercial complex and a bus shelter.

The prime land, provided at a nominal lease rent of Rs.20,000 for 30 years, was handed over to us by the district administration, TRIDA chairman P.K. Venugopal told The Hindu.

The land belonging to the school, set up in 1889, was handed over to TRIDA in spite of objections raised by the Education Department. As directed by the government, Mr. Venugopal said the complex would be utilised to rehabilitate traders who have been displaced from Thakaraparambu for the Melepazhavangady flyover and shops along the fort wall from the Pazhavangady-Attakulangara stretch. The concessionaire of the City Road Improvement Project (CRIP) had been putting pressure to rehabilitate the traders to expedite the flyover work.

Taking into consideration the centenary status and the legacy of the school, the TRIDA had offered a package to the school that included refurbishing the building, improving infrastructure facilities, and an additional entrance from the Sreepadmanabha Theatre side. Mr. Venugopal said this would be the first work to be taken up.

He said 80 to 100 traders would be rehabilitated in the 40,000 sq ft complex to be set up on the land. An open market was also being planned. The remaining displaced traders would be rehabilitated on the plots identified on Thakaraparambu road.

The bus shelters proposed on the school premises will accommodate 24 buses. This will decongest the roads at East Fort and ensure hassle-free movement of vehicles.

The complex and the bus shelters are estimated to cost TRIDA Rs. 30 crore. Mr. Venugopal said work would begin in two to three months. The busy Pazhavangady-East Fort-Attakulangara stretch will to be widened and reconstructed to accommodate six-lane traffic under the 42-km CRIP.

Demolishing the city bus terminal and removing the shops hugging the fort wall to the north and south of the entrance would give the much-needed restoration to the fort wall that is a heritage structure, he said.

The former Deputy Chief of Army Staff Lt Gen Sushil. K. Pillai said the short-term solution would, in course of time, result in the winding up of the school. The TRIDA should suspend the work and introduce a plan to improve the school, he added.

Anitha S, Treewalk Coordinator, said TRIDA should retain the 100 trees belonging to 32 species, including two rare species, and the old building.

TRIDA should at least avoid the bus shelters to retain the campus as a green lung of the city, she said.