THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: The capital city has been witnessing a major controversy over the approach road to Trivandrum International Airport for a long time. A decision on whether to retain the approach road or not has been pending for the past two years. After much deliberations, a proposal to construct a flyover, as part of the development of NH bypass from Kazhakoottam to Mukkola, was put forth in order to avoid the demolition of the approach road. However, a final call on government spending on the flyover is yet to be made.
The 1.6 km flyover has been proposed by the National Highways Authority of India (NHAI). The flyover, from Chackai Railway Overbridge to Enchakkal, was to run parallel to the existing approach road to the airport. The Union government had approved the construction of the flyover by retaining the existing ramps of the airport on the condition the state contributes 50 per cent of the additional cost which will be incurred.
However, the proposal continues to gather dust with the state government yet to take a decision on the fund it has to contribute for the Rs 142 crore project.Meanwhile, the situation at Chackai will worsen once the shopping mall, coming up close to the approach road, opens. Traffic will rise and snarl-ups might become a common thing.
Sources in NHAI said the stalemate over the construction of the flyover from Chackai to Enchakkal continues since the state government is yet to take a decision on contributing fifty per cent of the total cost.
“We have told the contractor to put on hold the development of the road from Chackai to Enchakkal. In fact, we are waiting for the government’s call on this. If nothing comes up, we will have to avoid widening this two-kilometre stretch of road. Meanwhile, the road development work in the other areas on the Kazhakootam-Mukkola stretch is nearing completion,” a senior NHAI officer said.Ministry of Road, Transport and Highways have approved the fresh design drawn up by the state government in consultations with various stakeholders.
When contacted the authorities with the PWD (NH) department, said a decision regarding the fund is yet to be taken. According to the sources, the government is yet to take a decision due to the financial crunch haunting it. The government is considering sourcing the fund from Kerala Infrastructure Investment Fund Board (KIIFB), sources said.As per the proposal, the 19.6-metre wide one-way flyover will have approach roads on either side at Chackai junction to facilitate the movement of vehicles to Shanghumugham and Palayam.
Traffic from Kazhakoottam towards the airport will be able to use the existing road after coming down from the ROB at Chackai junction and then taking a U-turn to enter the approach road to the airport. While the vehicles coming from Enchakkal can use the existing road and those who are going towards the airport can directly enter the approach road near Ananthapuri Hospital.
As the first step, NHAI had demolished the roundabout at Chackai junction. Earlier, the government appointed an expert N S Srinivasan to draw up an alternate plan in order to avoid the demolition of the ramp. It was he who proposed a flyover parallel to the existing approach road.
Residents demand demolition of ramp
Meanwhile, the residents living near the approach road are still demanding the demolition of the ramp and they have approached NHAI to come up with a solution. Residents said the traffic in the region will go up affecting them adversely. They said the approach road was meant to be a temporary one and was constructed in 2010 to connect a three-lane flyover. The approach road was constructed during the V S Achuthanandan government. The project attracted widespread criticism and was called an unscientific one. Though the UDF government in 2016 approved the demolition of the road, the LDF government decided to retain it.