Protesting against the alignment proposed for the Pachalam Railway Overbridge (ROB), the Opposition councillors walked out of the Kochi Corporation’s Council meeting on Monday. Opposition leader and senior CPM councillor K J Jacob moved a resolution against the new design of the ROB which limits the width to 10 metre. He said if implemented, the design would be a betrayal of the people’s aspiration.
According to the Opposition, Pachalam ROB should be constructed with the 22 metre width. “The JNNURM proposal was a 22-metre wide bridge that extends from Mamangalam to Goshree Road, running above two rail crossings at Pachalam and Vaduthala. The new design is to construct a narrow bridge which would serve vested interests but not development,” said Jacob.
He added that they were not informed of the details of the new proposal. “We learnt from news reports ihat the ROB would begin from market and would end at Kattingal junction. This would not serve ease traffic but increase congestion as people will have to wait at Vaduthala rail crossing,” he said.Recently, Chief Minister Oommen Chandy had said that the government has given in-principle approval for Delhi Metro Rail Corporation (DMRC) to construct Pachalam RoB, after E Sreedharan, Principal Advisor to DMRC, agreed to take up the work.
Sreedharan had said that DMRC is willing to construct a ROB at Pachalam with two lane carriageway and one-and-a-half meter wide footpath, restricting the overall width to 10 meters.
Though Mayor Tony Chammany and other members of the Ruling council tried to persuade support for the new design, the Opposition members were not ready to back off from their resolution demanding a 22 metre width plus eight metre footpath on either sides. The Mayor said the new design was proposed considering ‘practical side and available resources’. “We requested E Sreedharan to prepare a design which involves less land acquisition costs. While the original proposal under JNNURM involves acquiring over nine acres, putting a burden on the Corporation to find around `136 crore, this would need just one acre, reducing the land acquisition costs to around`30 crore,” said the Mayor.
He admitted that Goshree- Mamangalam approach road and other things will be lost if new design is implemented, but claimed that when it comes to development, practicality precedes dreams.
Suggesting an end to the long factional feuds within the Congress, Development Committee chairman and Senior ‘I’ group leader T J Vinod Kumar supported the new design.
Councillors K Anil Kumar, K N Sunil Kumar, Delina Pinhero, C A Shakeer, Manikandarajan, Sunila Selvan, Leno Jacob, Mahesh Kumar and K V Manoj spoke. As the Opposition walked out from the council, some of the Congress councillors from Pachalam protested the Ppposition stance by waving black flags.