THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: Unlike other cities in the state, the rubberised clean roads and streamlined traffic are a matter of pride for the capital city. And it comes as no surprise that the city has received several accolades from various agencies for maintaining its roads properly. However, it seems the authorities concerned have forgotten about a major stretch which is being touted as the gateway to the capital. It is none other than, the Kazhakoootam-Kesavadasapuram stretch which is part of the National Highway.
Even as the development of NH-bypass starting from Kazhakootam to Kovalam is progressing fast, the fate of this stretch which lies parallel to the bypass is yet to be decided by the government. The reason? Delay in the decision on the implementation of the Light Metro proposal. The Light Metro which was to originate from Technocity near Pallipuram to Karamana would have been even extended up to Pappanamcode.
However, the Union Government’s recent metro policy which makes Public-Private Partnership mandatory to obtain Central assistance will derail the Light Metro project since the state government is wary of it. Earlier, this year, the state government had given administrative sanction to widen the congested Kazhakoottam-Kesavadasapuram stretch of NH 66 to accommodate the pillars of the Light Metro and to construct flyovers at Sreekaryam and Ulloor. Even the alignment had been fixed. It had been decided to give the right of way of 24 metres and a three-metre wide median in the centre. Moreover, the Revenue Department had begun land acquisition proceedings for the three flyovers at Sreekaryam, Ulloor and Pattom and 19 light metro stations in the first reach.
With the Central policy putting a spoke in the Light Metro project, it seems the gateway to Thiruvananthapuram is fated to remain a traffic nightmare. Though the authorities came up with various proposals including monorail, light metro etc. nothing has materialised.
Commuters prefer this stretch the most since it provides easy access to places like the Medical CollegeHospital, Pattom, Palayam or Kowdiar than the bypass. However now, they are forced to use the bypass due to heavy traffic snarl ups at Pongumoodu and Sreekariyam.
“During the peak hours, the traffic at Sreekariyam is unimaginable. I have no vehicle and have to rely on public transport. It takes a lot of time to reach Sreekariyam or Pongumoodu because the traffic moves at snail’s pace,” said Ashwathy Nair of Attingal who works at a private firm.
Sreejith V S, a techie, said the city-zens don’t want a hi-fi project which often gets stuck in red tape. “What we want is the development of a basic infrastructure,” he said. “Metro and other hi-fi transportation schemes are good for the public. But what we need is development at the fundamental level. NH bypass is being widened and it is good to see the progress after a long wait. But the condition of the road from Kazhakoottam to Kesavadasapuram is pathetic. The PWD carries out repair works only after multiple requests are made. See the irony, we have a world-class international stadium at one end of the stretch, while on the other a substandard ‘National Highway’!,” Sreejith said.
When T’Puram Express contacted, K P Prabhakaran, Chief Engineer, PWD ( NH), he said the department has nothing to do with the development of the stretch and it is being overseen by Kerala Rapid Transit Corporation Limited (KRTCL), a special purpose vehicle which has been formed by the state government to implement Light Metro in the city.
According to top KRTL officials, the new metro policy will not be a hurdle to the light metro project. “The project is still on,” they said.
“The stretch can be developed into four lanes in order to implement the Light Metro project. One thing the state government has against the PPP model is the user fee that gets levied. However, we are yet to receive an official copy of the new metro policy. We hope the government will take an apt decision and proceed with the light metro. I’m very positive about this. Besides, the preliminary works of the proposed flyover at Sreekariyam, Ulloor and Pattom is progressing fast,” said Biju Prabhakar, PWD special secretary.
A sad plight
Delay in the decision on the implementation of the Light Metro proposal has put the development of Kazhakoootam-Kesavadasapuram on hold.
Commuters prefer this stretch the most since it provides easy access to places like the Medical College Hospital, Pattom, Palayam or Kowdiar than the bypass.