KOCHI: Iyyappanthanal residents’ struggle to get a bus shelter has hit a roadblock, again. It’s been four years since they first took up the issue.Now, the spot that the local body identified and inspected to construct a shelter is located close to the traffic signal, which is where all the problems began.
In 2015, the Iyyappanthangal bus stop was located adjacent to the Iyyappanthangal signal. “With buses making a beeline to the signal during peak hours, traffic snarls were unbearable. So, I wrote to the CM Cell and the local authorities, and got the bus stop shifted by 200 metres in June 2016 after constant follow-up. However, the overhead shelter was not shifted,” said Citizen Senthil, an activist from the area.
While residents have been fighting for a shelter in the new bus stop since then, the officials have now gone and inspected the same old spot.
“I received an RTI reply recently, clearly stating that the old spot was inspected. Having the bus shelter shifted again will mean we have to re-start the struggle from square one. The Highways Department has granted permission to construct a bus shelter in the new place in 2017, however, the local panchayat officials left residents to suffer in rain and sun, all these years. At least after all the delay, the residents will be happy if the shelter is constructed in the new spot, located 500 m away from the signal,” added Senthil.
In May 2017, the residents of VGN Nagar crowdfunded `30,000 and constructed a bus shelter after obtaining permission from the local body. But their happiness lasted only three days.
“On the fourth day, only the mangled remains of the bus shelter were left, and on examining the CCTV footage, we found earthmovers razing down the shelter at midnight. The reason is alleged to be a political clash, but we do not know who the culprit is till date,” said P Usha, a regular commuter. The residents now allege that it must be the same ‘political persons’ who are not allowing the bus shelter to come up in this area and are insisting on the old spot instead.
Again, in 2018 the residents sought permission from officials to rebuild the shelter with their own money. However, with multiple departments — including State Highways, local panchayat and Traffic — involved in the scene, the residents were made to run from pillar to post, as they did not have permission.
“With the monsoon here, it is going to get more difficult. Autorickshaws charge exorbitant fares, and looks like this year too, we have got no option but to shell extra money on transport,” said S Karuna, a resident of VGN Nagar.
However, when contacted, the local panchayat official said the RTI reply is not right and that they had contacted higher officials regarding the issue. “We are pitching a new estimate for the shelter and the work must begin in another 15 days,” he said.