RoB projects hang fire

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The city’s two main projects aimed at easing traffic woes – Atlantis and Pachalam railway overbridges – are hanging fire. Conceived nearly two decades ago, these projects have seen alignment changes.

Backed by Jawaharlal Nehru Natio-nal Urban Rural Mission (JnNURM), these projects have already been allocated government funds for land acquisition. But realignments will go against the mission’s norms leaving them as non-starters.

In the case of the Pach-alam RoB, residents want the width to be shrunk to 10 metres from the proposed 22.

The demand is in the wake of people and institutions losing their land. A.P.M. Mohammad Hanish, managing director of Roads and Bridges Development Corporation of Kerala (RBDCK), told DC that little had been done in the case of the Pachalam RoB, though the realignment for the one in Atlantis had been agreed upon. However, there, the issues were regarding land acquisition.

“We’ve not taken a final decision on the width and gradient of the Pachalam bridge. The JnNURM rules allow alteration in any one of the components, width or gradient. As Pachalam is a densely populated area, acquiring land will be a major constraint and the project can be realised only if land acquisition is to the minimum. But shrinking the width to such a low level might cause problems”, a Kochi corporation source said.

The district collector has been negotiating with the land owners for the Atlantis bridge. “Owners are asking exorbitant rates for their land, as high as Rs 60 lakh per cent. Acquisition can begin only after fixing the rate and nearly 2.5 acres would have to be acquired”, the source added.

The RoB is crucial to diverting vehicles when the South bridge is rebuilt as part of the Kochi Metro works. It will take away a large chunk of vehicles clogging the South RoB.

Mr Hanish said the final alignment and design for the RoB was finalised in September, but the Public Works Department had been the cause for delay as it had yet to obtain a no objection certificate from the corporation for closure of the railway gate.

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