Rough sea, heavy rain halt repair of badly damaged Shankhumukham-airport road

Wash away metal sheet piles brought to construct diaphragm walls | New road unlikely to be opened next month

Published: 17th November 2021 07:02 AM  |   Last Updated: 17th November 2021 07:02 AM   |  A+A-

The ongoing construction of Shankhumukham-airport road in Thiruvananthapuram stopped due to heavy rain and strong waves. The diaphragm wall has been washed away by towering waves | Vincent Pulickal

Express News Service

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM:  The critically damaged Shankhumukham beach-airport road, the easiest route to reach the domestic terminal from most parts of the city, is unlikely to be restored next month owing to the prevailing inclement weather. The downpour that has lashed the city for the past three days has halted the work, washing away the metal sheet piles that were brought to construct the diaphragm walls to protect the beach and the 330-metre road from sea erosion. It has been more than six months the road, that was gradually gnawed by rough seas was closed by the Publc Works Department. 

The connectivity from the airport to the city was cut off and many passengers arriving at the airport had to walk till Shankhumukham lugging the baggage. Taxi drivers use the Vallakadavu route and enter the city through NH66 bypass at Enchakkal. Earlier, Transport Minister and local MLA Antony Raju who visited the spot in September  had assured that the road would be opened to traffic from December. 

The Uralungal Labour Construction Cooperative Society has been entrusted with the task of bringing the road back to shape. Local residents alleged that unscientific construction led to this situation. At present, the works have been stalled for two days and the authorities are awaiting favourable weather condition. “The work is not going in the right direction. They have been filling the Shankhumukham shore with sand using earthmovers for the past several days and erected metal diaphragm walls.

However, the rain and rough waves have washed away the filled sand and walls. Now, they are taking the walls and trying to erect again. If a rough wave comes again, the constructed parts will be washed away again. So the government should take a scientific approach to restore the road,” said Bijumon, a local resident.

In August, Radhakrishnan V Nair, a Bengaluru-based architect and an alumnus of CET, had submitted a new proposal to the government as a permanent solution to the problem. He had claimed the diaphragm wall is not a feasible solution to save Shankhumukham. Earlier, experts had expressed strong dissent against the diaphragm wall project proposed by the PWD alleging that it was planned without proper study. In order to keep the road in tact, Nair had proposed the construction of a watertight wall to ensure the isolation of the road, which is elevated from the sea level, and an ‘L’ shaped concrete structure with additional triangular walls running transversely to connect the watertight wall. 

Meanwhile, Ajith Ramachandran, PWD chief engineer, told TNIE that the metal sheet piles were erected as a temporary measure. “Work has been disrupted and stalled for only a few days. The sheet piles were washed away but the diaphragm wall erected around 4 metres is intact. I visited the spot yesterday. So even though the works have been stalled, we will try our best to restore the road by next month,” he said. However, Ajith was not aware about the proposal by Radhakrishnan V Nair as currently the construction is being carried out under the design of the Central Road Research Institute. 

Hope and despair

Transport Minister and local MLA Antony Raju who visited the spot in September had promised that the road would be opened for traffic from December.

Uralungal Labour Construction Cooperative Society has been entrusted with the task of bringing the road back to shape

Residents allege unscientific construction led to this situation.

Rain subsides, capital returns to normalcy

T’Puram: The district is slowly returning to normalcy after the intermittent rain in the past three days subsided on Tuesday. Except for a few places in the hilly regions, the district received hardly any shower. The water level in rivers and floodwater too started receding. Many people lodged in relief camps returned home. Some had to stay back as their houses needed to be cleaned after the flash floods. However, the train services between Thiruvananthapuram and Kanyakumari could not be restored as the threat of landslip on the track between Parassala and Nagercoil persists. Railway authorities could not completely remove the soil that fell on the tracks. Traffic along the national highway at Neyyattinkara has also not been fully restored.

Fishers asked to remain vigilant 
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration has forecast 2.5 to 3.3 metres high waves and tidal waves off the coast of Kerala till 11.30pm on Wednesday. District Collector Navjot Khosa has asked fishermen and coastal residents to be vigilant and warned them to stay away from dangerous areas. “Fishing vessels should be safely anchored in the harbour. Maintaining a safe distance between boats will reduce the risk of collisions. Trips to beach and recreational activities at sea should be avoided,” the collector said. 

Woman still missing 
The 58-year-old woman Omana who fell into Neyyar river could not be traced. The search operations by the police and fire and rescue team could not yield result, as there were strong currents on the river at Mavilakkadavu, near Poovar.


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