The state government’s decision to restrict the widening of Thammanam-Pulleppady Road to 18 metres instead of the proposed 22 metres will only hinder the scheme from materialising. The widening of the road is inevitable for de-congesting the city once the Kochi Metro Rail is constructed. As per the proposed plan which was approved under the Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission (JNNURM), the 2.8-km Thammanam-Pulleppady stretch was supposed to be widened to 22 m. The 4(1) notification for land acquisition of 20 acres of land for widening and rehabilitation was issued. Accordingly, a total of 94 persons had already handed over their land to the Corporation. The initial estimated cost of land acquisition was `171 crore, but later it moved up to more than `300 crore.
It was at the meeting convened by the Chief Minister last week that the decision to restrict the width of the road to 18 metres was taken. It was after taking the difficulties in acquiring the land under consideration that the meeting had reached such a decision “But it would not not be an easy task for the authorities as the mutation procedures for the land already handed over to the Corporation has been completed. Now if we decide to restrict the width to 22 metres, some of the excess land acquired earlier will have to be given back to its owners. That is a time consuming process,” said a Corporation official.
The government had also decided to entrust the widening of the road with the Public Works Department (PWD). “First of all the decision to restrict the road and the decision to hand over the road to the PWD for widening will have to obtain the nod of the Corporation council. Once the Council approves the proposal, then the land acquired by the Corporation will have to be handed over to the PWD and the transfer of documents will be equally time-consuming,” he said.
The funds, according to the official, were approved by the JNNURM for widening the road to 22 metres. “Hence we cannot use that fund if we were widening it to 18 metres,” he said. The government had allocated `25 crore for land acquisition and another `50 crore is needed for further acquisition. The PWD is planning to carry out the work by including it in the preparatory works for Kochi Metro.