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New bridge at Vallakadavu remains a far cry

As many as 30 landowners have agreed to surrender their land to facilitate the bridge construction.

Published: 03rd March 2021 06:18 AM  |   Last Updated: 03rd March 2021 06:18 AM   |  A+A-

The 132-year-old Vallakadavu bridge continues to be in a dilapidated condition |B P Deepu

Express News Service

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: The project to construct a permanent bridge at Vallakadavu in place of the 132-year-old dilapidated Vallakadavu bridge – one of the key corridors that link the coastal area and the airport with the city – is moving at a snail’s pace raising concern among residents and motorists. The proceedings for acquiring land for the construction of the new bridge is yet to gain pace leaving landowners in the lurch. 

As many as 30 landowners have agreed to surrender their land to facilitate the bridge construction. But even after a decade, the revenue authorities are yet to initiate steps to acquire the land.  It has been almost eight years since Sakeer Hussain, a resident, submitted all documents and title deed agreeing to surrender 10 cents he owns near Vallakadavu. It is learnt that one-acre land is required for the construction of the bridge. 

“I decided to hand over the land after realising the pathetic condition of the bridge. My family uses the bridge everyday and I didn’t think twice to take the decision. In 2013, I handed over the documents to the revenue authorities but till the day, they haven’t initiated any measures to acquire the land,” said Sakeer, who is one among the many landowners who are unable to use their property for any other purpose. “I cannot sell or lease out the land and the government is not taking any step to take over the land,” he added. The project was announced when V S Achuthanandan was the chief minister. 

“When the Oommen Chandy government came to power, it was not very keen on implementing the project. In 2017, I took up the matter with the Human Rights Commission and the Kerala High Court. The court and the commission issued orders directing the authorities to take immediate steps to construct a new bridge in place of the old bridge. The work of the temporary bridge is under construction right now but land acquisition proceedings are not taking place,” said activist and resident Ragam Rahim. 

According to residents, despite the PWD putting up a warning board restricting the entry of vehicles weighing above three tonnes on the bridge, heavy vehicles continue to ply on the bridge which is on the verge of collapse. Adding to the woes, the work of the temporary bridge being constructed by the PWD Roads and Bridges is progressing at a slow pace. 

A senior official of the PWD Bridges Wing said that they will begin the work of the permanent bridge only after the Revenue Department hands over the land. “We are hoping to complete the temporary bridge project within three months,” said the official. According to the PWD, the construction of the temporary bridge was delayed as the design had to be altered. “The district administration issued a demolition order as they objected to the design which could obstruct water flow. The project faced further cost escalation,” said the official. 

The Revenue Department had carried out a social impact study earlier and a meeting was held with the parties involved in the land acquisition. “Now they have to constitute an executive committee to finalise the study report and issue the notification for land acquisition. The deputy collector has issued an order to the agencies concerned to form the executive committee,” the official said. The new bridge is estimated to cost around Rs 15 crore.



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