Major CSML projects hang in the balance

The pilot stretch of the smart road concept on Abraham Madamakkal Road is among the 12 infrastructure projects that have been completed in the city.   | Photo Credit: Special Arrangement

Of the ₹1,000 crore outlay for the Smart Cities Mission in the city, projects worth around ₹100 crore of the total cost are complete nearly five years after Cochin Smart Mission Limited (CSML), the special purpose vehicle executing the project, was formed.

Twelve projects are complete, including a small pilot stretch of the smart road concept on Abraham Madamakkal Road, at a cost of around ₹100 crore. The completed projects include a roof-top solar panel project on 28 buildings, integrated command, control and communication centre, e-health system for the Ernakulam General Hospital, scheme to distribute household bins for waste segregation, open air theatre at Fort Kochi, and the renovation of a stretch of the walkway at Marine Drive.

Major projects like the ₹166-crore sewage treatment system for West Kochi are hanging in the balance, with some hesitation from residents. Shanmugham Road, Park Avenue Road, and the stretch from Jos Junction to Durbar Hall are also awaiting smart road status, with underground ducts for cables, pavements, and cycle lanes. Minor bridges in West Kochi and the construction of new blocks at the General Hospital, Fort Kochi Taluk Hospital, and the Mattancherry Women and Child Hospital are also in the implementation stage, officials at CSML said.

While CSML was formed in 2016, a consultant came on board only by the end of 2017, and work began to be tendered and awarded in 2018, they added. The project is being implemented in divisions one to five of West Kochi and divisions 62, 66 and 67 in the central area of the city.

Road work has been progressing at an excruciatingly slow pace, according to Kochi Corporation councillors. Manu Jacob, who represents Ernakulam North, said roads were dug simultaneously at multiple spots for drain work in the division, and work was left incomplete. “In the Cloth Bazaar area, the road was dug up for around three months, inconveniencing shop owners,” he added.

Antony Kureethara, councillor representing Fort Kochi, also pointed out that the work in his division was progressing slowly. “It has been over a year since they took up drain work on KB Jacob Road. That has reached nowhere,” he said.

Some projects also turned out to be half-baked, like the cycle track that was painted onto Park Avenue and Abraham Madamakkal roads. “These tracks are useless. Strangely, on the stretch between Marine Drive and the High Court, the track is right beside the median, which is unsafe,” said Joby Raju, founder of Pedal Force Kochi, a group of cyclists.

Besides, it looks like it has turned into a convenient parking spot, he added.

“Some designs are clearly not smart enough,” said Shagzil Khan, another cyclist. “The idea was good, but it needs to be developed. In a meeting with officials, we were told the cycle track was a pilot project that would be better designed and implemented soon,” he said.

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Printable version | Apr 21, 2021 7:55:08 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/Kochi/major-csml-projects-hang-in-the-balance/article33945844.ece

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