KALADY : Commuting through the busy stretches of the historic town is nothing short of an ordeal these days. While the renovation of the famous Kalady Bridge has remained a long-standing demand, the proposed parallel bridge too is caught in red tape.A meeting on the same convened by PWD Minister G Sudhakaran in August last year - in the presence of Angamaly MLA Roji M John and Kalady Panchayat president K Thulsi - has had little impact.
The meeting had approved an approach road for a parallel bridge with Rs 42 crore allotted in 2012. In 2014, a team of experts from IIT reported the bridge was unfit for vehicular transport. As usual, the formalities have not been initiated in a time-bound manner. And the 54-year-old bridge remains a nightmare for over 10,000 daily commuters.
Angamaly MLA Roji M John said he had allotted an amount of Rs 15 lakh from the MLA fund for the renovation of the bridge. “The allotted fund has not yet been used because of the disputes with the contractors regarding GST. The steps and measures approved at KIIFB have not been started because of some technical reasons,” he said.
The narrow two-lane bridge that connects Thannipuzha and Kalady Junction also acts as a link to Thrissur and Nedumbassery Airport from Perumbavoor, via MC Road. It is also the main route to reach high range areas in Idukki and Kottayam. The numerous vehicles coming from either side of the bridge, including over-speeding buses, sends traffic haywire. With the increase in vehicular population, traffic bottlenecks have become the order of the day. The narrow Kalady Junction, along with its traffic signals, intensifies this congestion. The bridge shows decay with wide cracks, forcing heavy vehicles to stop on the bridge during the traffic blocks.
Voicing their concerns, the local residents, drivers and shopkeepers said the inordinate delay is a recipe for disaster.“None of the governments have taken the matter seriously,” said Suresh, an auto taxi driver. Sijo, an autorickshaw driver said the narrow Kalady Junction needs to be widened first.
“It is not the shortage of funds but red-tapism that stands in the way of progress,” said shopkeeper Noushad.
“The tendency to wait for a calamity to begin action should give way to time-bound completion of urgent projects where the life of the common man is at stake.”The proposed two-lane bridge is to have a carriageway of 7.5 m and a 1.5 m walkway on either side. According to PWD, the bridge will be located on the western side of the existing bridge.
The state government had given administrative sanction for a parallel bridge in 2012. Even after five years, the land acquisition has not been completed. Even the alignment of the bridge has not been fixed. The bridge had also developed a gaping hole in 2014, exposing the iron bars while leaving almost a 1.5-metre long and a 2-feet wide opening towards the left side of the entry from Kalady. The agitated locals had also taken out a protest march and staged a blockade on the bridge. Later, the PWD concreted the two cross beams on the bridge using micro-concreting technology.