Staff Reporter

Traders seek realignment of project

Protests may delay project: Collector

Says it up to the government to take a decision

KOCHI: Efforts to initiate the land acquisition process for the proposed Kochi metro rail project suffered a setback on Monday when District Collector A.P.M. Mohammed Hanish called off the demarcation and survey works following opposition from traders on M.G. Road.

The survey of the land identified for the project and its demarcation had been progressing for the last 20 days. The Collector said only the survey and demarcation works along the M.G. Road stretch remained to be completed. It would have been completed in two days. Traders interrupted the work at Jos Junction and the work was suspended forthwith, said Revenue officials.

The Collector ordered the withdrawal of men and machinery as soon as reports of opposition from the traders came in.

“The district administration is determined not to cause any tension by going ahead with the work. Now it is up to the government to take a decision,” the Collector said adding that he had informed the State government about the stalemate.

The traders on M.G. Road are demanding realignment of the project through Shanmugham Road instead of M.G. Road as envisaged in the original proposal. The Delhi Metro Rail Corporation (DMRC), the implementing agency, at a high-level meeting held last Monday had turned down this demand on grounds of technical and financial feasibility.

The work, which was started from both ends from Thripunithura and Aluva, now remains bogged down at Ernakulam North and the Jos Junction areas. The 25.3-km-long elevated rail is proposed between Pettah in Thripunithura and Aluva.

The Collector said that it was for the government to decide whether to hold further discussions with the opposing traders or to continue work with police protection.

He said the present stalemate would have a delaying effect on the project. Land acquisition, which was to follow demarcation, would get delayed subsequently, he said.

Once started, the land acquisition process is expected to be completed in eight months at an estimated cost of Rs.75 crore. The State government has already granted Rs. 4 crore to the district administration towards land acquisition.

The government had made it clear that it would go by the recommendations of the DMRC. Law Minister M. Vijayakumar, who is also in charge of railways, reiterated this stand last Saturday when he remarked that the demand of the traders raised “practical” problems.

In a statement issued here, the Kerala Chamber of Commerce and Industry said it was not for a confrontation with the authorities but wanted an amicable settlement to the issue of realignment through proper discussions.

“We want to be heard before recommencing the work on the project,” S.A. Mansoor, secretary of the Chamber said. He said realigning the project through Shanmugham Road as demanded by the traders would benefit more people.