Administrative and special sanction for Rs. 14 crore to construct approach road
Over a decade after it was built, the Kothi bridge is finally getting its approach road.
The bridge is supposed to play an arterial role on the proposed coastal highway and seeks to link the city to its historic cultural and trade hubs, such as Kuttichira and Valiyangadi.
Though full of promise, the bridge cannot, however, be accessed without the approach road. Acquisition of land for the road has stirred up a hornet’s nest, with the affected families worried about rehabilitation.
Now Public Works Department (PWD) officials and members of the Kothi Approach Road Action Committee, who negotiated for the displaced families, say “95 per cent” of the acquisition problems have been solved.
A Government Order issued by the department on October 7 accords “administrative and special sanction” for Rs. 14 crore to construct the approach road to the Kothi-Pallikkandy Bridge.
“We are actually building two roads on either side of the bridge. One on the Pallikkandy side will be 1,200-metre long and the other on the Chakkumkadavu side will be 600-metre long. The work will also encompass a 600-metre seawall along the coastal side of Pallikkandy,” P.N. Sasi Kumar, Executive Engineer, PWD (Roads and Bridges) Division, Kozhikode, said on Sunday.
The approach road, once completed, will help the residents of Pallikkandy, Thekkepuram, Chakkumkadave and Payyanakkal gain better access to the city, he said.
At present, just a mud path runs along the sides of the bridge.
But families displaced for the road remain disgruntled. For 93 of them below the poverty line (BPL), displaced for the road several years ago, the Chief Minister’s promise of jobs as part of their rehabilitation package is yet to materialise.
The families were occupying Puramboke land and had staged agitations seeking their rehabilitation.
“There was a lot of confusion. The Corporation eventually took the initiative to rehabilitate the families, though the primary responsibility was with the State government,” Mayor A.K. Premajam says.
The local body stepped in to allot its land on the Pallikkandy side for the rehabilitation of the families. Each of them was given 2.5 cents of land and Rs. 80,000 in cash.
“That was four to five years ago. These displaced families had nowhere to go. They had no title deed or claim on the property they had lived for all these years,” N. Mohanan, Chairperson, Public Works Standing Committee, Kozhikode Corporation, says.
In 2012, the State government pitched in, promising them self-employment schemes modelled on the widely appreciated Sparsam programme initiated at Marad.
“The government’s job scheme was meant for these BPL families evicted from the Puramboke land. Till today, it has not reached anywhere. A sum of Rs. 3.5 crore released for the scheme is still lying in the Treasury,” T.V. Kunhayin Koya, secretary, Kothi Approach Road Action Committee, said.
Again, 53 other families, who had title deeds to their lands, feel the government has not treated them fairly.
Mr. Koya said that the government had last year declared Rs. 2 crore as compensation for these families.
“Many of them say the amount is too little for the land they lost,” he said.