THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: Lack of clarity prevails in the proposed underpass in the Kodinada- Vazhimukku stretch as a section of traders has voiced their opposition to it. Despite the Public Works Minister P A Mohammed Riyas clarifying that the congested narrow stretch of Balaramapuram will be widened to 30.2 meters as part of the development plan, it seems that the underpass at the junction might be abandoned.
The underpass would require a widening of the road to 38.8 metres for a 470-meter length. Ten days ago, a group of traders from Balaramapuram met with the Public Works Minister and demanded the scrapping of the underpass project. They argued that the opening of Mukkola-Karode NH 66 has significantly reduced traffic along Balaramapuram. The traders also expressed concerns that the underpass is unnecessary and would negatively impact business in the town.
According to S K Jayakumar, general secretary of the Karamana-Kaliyikkavila development action council, the state government and the traders in Balaramapuram had an in-principle agreement on holding the underpass project. “Currently, there is no work related to the underpass project. Instead, the government is moving ahead with land acquisition for widening to 30.2 metres. Once the Vizhinjam port is operational, Balaramapuram will be more congested. So the road development should be futuristic. Hence, we are planning a protest march on July 19 demanding an underpass or flyover at Balaramapuram,” he said.
An action council formed for the project’s development plans to stage a protest march toward the Neyyattinkara taluk office on July 19, urging the state government to expedite the underpass project. However, the Kerala Road Fund Board (KRFB), the executing agency for the project, stated that the underpass project is still ongoing.
When contacted, the PWD minister’s office said that a traffic survey was conducted recently, and a decision on whether the underpass should be constructed or not has not been taken so far.
Meanwhile, a top official of KRFB’s Project Management Unit stated that they did not receive any direction from the minister to scrap the underpass project. “We are going ahead with the project.
Once we get the land from the revenue department, we will start the proceedings to construct the underpass. The underpass will start 100 metres away from the Thiruvananthapuram side,” the official said. Meanwhile, the land acquisition for the widening of the Kodinada to Vazhimukku stretch is progressing rapidly. Jacob Sanjay John, Deputy Collector (Land Acquisition), stated that compensation distribution will commence within two months.
“The valuation of the structures on both sides of Balaramapuram is underway. The work is going on at a fast pace, and compensation awarded to landowners on the left side is likely to begin next month. Once a property is attached, we will hand it over to KRFB soon to ensure that the tender proceedings can start at the earliest,” he said.