The demand for the Pachalam Railway Overbridge to ease the traffic woes of the city is gaining momentum, with nine Kerala High Court advocates residing at Pachalam approaching the Kerala High Court for a directive to the authorities to take steps to construct a railway overbridge.
Expressing dissatisfaction over the delay in implementing the project, a Division Bench comprising Chief Justice Manjula Chellur and A M Shaffique has sought the view of the Kochi Corporation. It also adjourned the hearing of the case to December 9.
The petitioner submitted that the political parties heading the Corporation, be it Left Democratic Front or the United Democratic Front, have failed, neglected or proved to be incompetent in bringing out an essential project which is the dire need of the people of the locality and for the development of the city.
The lawyers said the closure of the railway gate at Pachalam created great difficulties for them and the public at large. The gate closes every 10 minutes and people have to wait patiently for long which is a waste of time, energy and money. The gate closes more than a 100 times for the Express trains alone. That apart, there are goods trains, local trains and so on. But this is not all, sometimes, trains even stop at Pachalam railway track for getting the signal and the gate remains closed till the signal is given. By then vehicles line up on both ends of the road for a few kilometres.
According to Advocate Suman Chakravarthy and other petitioners, the demand for an overbridge at Pachalam has been pending for the past 40 years. The state government and the Kochi Corporation have been ignoring the demand due to pressure exerted by some vested interests.
The Railways were prepped to meet 50 per cent of the expenses for the construction of an overbridge. There was also a joint proposal to construct a roundabout at Pachalam by the Railways, Cochin Port Trust and Goshree Island Development Authority (GIDA) by meeting the expenses at the proportion of 50, 30, and 17 per cent respectively. But the Corporation had sabotaged the proposal by stating that it could be implemented under the Jawaharalal National Urban Renewal Mission (JNNRUM) but no steps have been taken by the Corporation so far.
A general alignment plan was prepared, but no attempts were made to acquire land for the project, the petitioners submitted.
Advocate Suman Chakravarthy said that after the petition came up before the Court, Corporation Mayor Tony Chammany held a press conference and said that the civic body could not afford taking up the project.
The petitioners also pointed out that Salim Rajan Overbridge which has only 50 percentage Passenger Car Unit PCU compared to Pachalam junction, was sanctioned and implemented in a very short span of time.
The petitioners sought a directive to the state government to implement the proposed overbridge project under the Kerala State Transport Project.