City experiences traffic snarls during the drive
THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: As many as 39 shops in the Statue-Overbridge stretch were demolished in a day-long drive by the Revenue Department on Saturday as part of the scheme to widen MG Road.
The demolition drive led by Additional District Magistrate (ADM) K. Surendran began at 6 a.m. The deadline given by the High Court to the traders concerned to vacate the shops expired at 5 p.m. on Friday.
Traffic on the arterial road was blocked as the first of the earthmovers moved in to demolish the shops on either side of the road near the Secretariat. As portions of one building after another came crashing down, the entire area was enveloped in a cloud of dust. While many of the buildings were fully demolished, some multi-storeyed buildings were partially demolished.
As the demolition progressed, some traders approached Mr. Surendran and informed him that they were yet to remove goods from their shops. The ADM told them that they would be allowed time to remove what they wanted from their shops. "We allowed these shop owners to bring their own vehicle and take away their belongings. All of them were very cooperative," Mr. Surendran said here.
There were traffic snarls in many parts of the city as the demolition drive continued into the afternoon. Teams from the Kerala State Electricity Board and the Kerala Water Authority stood by to set right any problems arising from broken power lines or water lines during the demolition drive.
A large posse of policemen was present to tackle any law and order problem. At a couple of locations near Ayurveda College junction, the falling concrete chunks snapped power and television cable lines. Three buildings on this stretch of the road were not demolished as the court had issued a stay.
The Public Works Department (PWD) and the Thiruvananthapuram Development Authority (TRIDA) were entrusted with the task of removing the debris so that this portion of MG Road was safe for traffic from Sunday. "Though vehicles of the TRIDA kept removing debris as soon as a building was demolished, I have ordered that an intensive cleaning drive be launched from 10 p.m. on Saturday to completely remove the debris from Statue to Overbridge. The work of completely demolishing all the buildings will begin on Sunday," the ADM said.
The shop owners and tenants on this stretch of the road had been issued notices to vacate their shops from December 2005 onwards, District Collector N. Ayyappan said. "All the shop owners had expressed their willingness to move and many handed over the keys of their shops. Some tenants, however, were reluctant to shift out demanding rehabilitation. Last week, I held discussions with about 25 shop owners on the issue of rehabilitation. I offered to take up the issue with the Government. But the talks were not conclusive," he said.