KOCHI: Finance Minister Thomas Isaac’s remarks the other day that the government is willing to undertake work on the Thammanam-Pulleppady Road to develop a fast and easy corridor connecting Kochi city and Infopark has brought the three-decade-long demand back to the limelight.The Padma Junction-Pullepady-Thammanam-Chakkaraparambu-Infopark corridor was proposed in the late 1990s as a “commercial corridor” connecting the city centre with Infopark-Smart City area.
As per the proposal, the 9-km road will begin from Padma Junction and go through Pulleppady to reach Thammanam, from where it will intersect the National Highway to reach Chakkaraparambu. From Chakkaraparambu, it will go through Navabhagam-Palachuvadu-Thuthiyoor and reach the Seaport-Airport Road to enter the Infopark back gate near Irumpanam.
“The proposal for developing the corridor was there since the late ’90s. But the sad part is that both the fronts, which ruled the Kochi corporation, were not able to carry the proposal forward,” said D Dhanu Raj, head of the city-based think tank Centre for Public Policy Research. “It was the huge land acquisition cost which was cited as the major reason for the delay. Moreover, a portion of the 9-km stretch of the proposed corridor is under Thrikkakara Municipality. So, a joint push from both the local bodies is necessary.” He said that surprisingly, for the past 15 years, no new roads were constructed in the city.
Meanwhile, the government believes that the proposed corridor can be developed only if the road is handed over to the public works department (PWD). The road from Padma Junction to Arkkakadavu is under the Kochi Corporation, while the stretch from Navabhagam to the Seaport-Airport Road is owned by Thrikkakkara Municipality.The last major road that was completed in Kochi city was the Kaloor-Kadavanthra stretch owned by the GCDA.
“The proposal for extending the Thammanam-Pulleppady Road up to Infopark was there in the cards even during my tenure as a councillor,” said N Venugopal, former GCDA chairman and councillor. “Kochi Corporation had earlier passed more than two resolutions, giving the council’s consent for handing over the road to the PWD. The road cannot be completed as easily as Kaloor-Kadavathra Road as land acquisition was not that much difficult in GCDA’s case as it owns the land to surrender.”
Earlier, P T Thomas MLA had said that though Finance Minister Isaac has suggested an allotment of Rs 100 crore for the proposed corridor, it will not be sufficient as the land acquisition cost alone will come to Rs 500 crore.Meanwhile, the previous government had allotted Rs 25 crore for the widening of Thammanam-Pulleppady Road.“Out of the total allocation, we had already used Rs 30 lakh to resurface the Kathrikadavau-Karnakodam stretch.
Work worth Rs 2 crore for widening the Thammanam Junction and a few other narrow stretches is also on the cards,” said Kochi mayor Soumini Jain. “Two days back, the finance minister had assured us that the government will take steps to allot KIIFB (Kerala Infrastructure Investment Fund Board) funds for the corridor. The works minister is supportive of the proposal. We will soon resubmit the blueprint of the proposal along with the consent letter of the council to hand over the road to PWD. With this, we hope that the project will get a fresh lease of life.”
Kaloor-Kadavanthra Road is the last major road that was built in Kochi city. Though the road was completed in 2004, a reach near the Kadavanthra bridge was officially handed over to the GCDA only in 2007-08. After the commissioning of the 22-m wide, four-lane road, the city has not seen a major road work in the past 15 years.
As per the proposal, the road will begin from Padma Jn and go through Pulleppady to reach Thammanam, from where it will intersect the NH to reach Chakkaraparambu. From Chakkaraparambu, it will go through Navabhagam-Palachuvadu-Thuthiyoor and reach the Seaport-Airport Road to enter the Infopark back gate near Irumpanam.
Land acquisition is the key hurdle. According to P T Thomas MLA, the land acquisition cost alone will come up to Rs 500 crore. Both the corporation authorities and Thrikkakkara Municipality authorities have reiterated they will not be able to meet the cost of land acquisition.
The alignment and sketches for the stretch are yet to be prepared. Another hurdle is the construction of a new bridge at Arkkakadavu.
The 9-km road from Padma Junction to Infopark was proposed almost three decades ago. Even after 30 years, the proposal remains only on paper.