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A mammoth task achieved

Staff Reporter
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Building the road and rail connectivity and capital dredging were the key ingredients that went into establishing the first container transhipment terminal in the country.

The National Highway connectivity project was undertaken by National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) and involved building a four-lane road with a route length of 17.2 km between Kalamassery and Vallarpadam.

The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs approved the project in April 2007 for an estimated cost of Rs. 557 crore, which was later revised to Rs. 872 crore.

The contract for construction of road and bridges was awarded in May 2007 and the construction work started during August 2007.

The connectivity comprises a fly-over along NH 47 near Kalamassery, 11 major bridges and a minor bridge across the Vembanad backwaters linking the various islands contiguous to Vallarpadam.

Cochin Port Trust was entrusted with the work of handing over of 6.70 km of land by dredging the backwaters and forming an embankment along the backwaters. The work was completed by the Port in August 2009.

There was some delay in land acquisition owing largely to opposition from people who were affected by the project near Moolampilly area.

There were also several court cases related to rehabilitation and payment of adequate compensation, which delayed completion of the acquisition procedures.

Acquisition of land (a total area of 46.36 ha) was completed in July 2008 and the total amount of compensation paid is Rs. 85.18 crore.

Though the targeted four-lane connectivity could not be completed so far, two-lane national highway link was completed in October 2010 and works on the additional two lanes are in progress. The project is expected to be completed by December 2013.

The rail connectivity project was taken by the special purpose vehicle Rail Vikas Nigam Limited (RVNL).

The rail link project involved building an 8.86-km rail link between Edapally and Vallarpadam Island.

The project was sanctioned in March 2007 at an estimated cost of Rs. 245.67 crore and a revised cost estimate for Rs. 298.17 crore was approved in December 2009.

A second revision of the cost was made and the estimate cost was raised to Rs. 395.05 crore.

Construction works

The construction activities commenced in March 2007. The connectivity comprised three major bridges, including India's longest rail bridge (4.62 km), and several smaller bridges.

The longest railway bridge in the country was built in two years and equalled building 190 metres of bridge per month or 6.3 metres of bridge every day.

This was an enviable record considering the fact that about 80 per cent of this bridge was built in the backwaters.

This bridge is constructed over pile foundations at 133 locations.

The height of the bridge is about 7.5 m above the ground level after the entry and the exit points and this allows water channel movement and road crossings at Mulavukad and Chittoor.

A total of 231 girders, each girder weighing 220 tonnes, were cast at Vallarpadam and transported to the location using motorised trolleys.

The bridge took 18,000 tonnes of steel, 50,000 tonnes of cement and is founded over piles totalling to about 64,000 m for the complete bridge.

Capital dredging for deepening and widening of the approach channel and berth basin of International ICTT to provide a draft of 14.5 m at Vallarpadam was a major challenge.

As per the conditions in the licence agreement, Cochin Port Trust is obliged to provide deeper and wider navigational channels to cater to the requirement of 8000+TEU container vessels.

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