Kerala: Kumbalangi-Aroor bridge still a distant dream for coastal residents

The realisation of the project would have spared them a lot of difficulty, that of circumnavigating around 15km to reach Aroor.
The remains of the soil testing process at the proposed site
The remains of the soil testing process at the proposed sitePhoto | Express

KOCHI: The proposed Kumbalangi-Aroor bridge across Vembanad lake, which was approved over six years ago, still remains a distant dream for coastal residents. The bridge connecting Kumbalangi village in Kochi taluk and Aroor village in Alappuzha district was expected to boost the tourism potential of the region in a major way.

It would provide easy access to the residents of Chellanam, Kumbalangi, Kannamali, and Cheriyakadavu to NH-66 and was a long-pending demand of the residents. The realisation of the project would have spared them a lot of difficulty, that of circumnavigating around 15km to reach Aroor.

“The bridge over Vembanad lake will spare them much time, and reduce the distance by 15km. A lot of people from coastal areas work in institutions such as KELTRON and seafood export companies based in Aroor. The last time the PWD officials contacted us was two years ago when the land acquisition began. However, the process is lagging and the actual construction work is yet to start,” said Aroor panchayat president Rakhi Antony. Nearly an acre of land in Kumbalangi and Aroor panchayats are being acquired for the bridge.

“The bridge was conceived to give easy access to the Kumbalangi tourism village from the national highway. The facility will bring more tourists here and contribute to the livelihood of the local residents. However, the project is getting nowhere. The soil testing was done nearly six years ago, but the actual construction activities are yet to start,” said Joseph P A, a lottery seller in Kumbalangi.

Currently, only a single Jankar plies on the route, ferrying vehicles and passengers to both ends. “The number of vehicles has gone up, and at times, commuters have to wait for half-an-hour to go to the other side,” he added. When TNIE contacted former Aroor MLA A M Ariff, who initiated the project, he said the land acquisition process is in the last stage.

“The construction works will begin as soon as the land acquisition gets completed,” he said. A sum of Rs 45 crore was allotted during the tenure of the first LDF government for the project, and an additional Rs 1 crore for carrying out preliminary construction activities. However, the work got stalled after the soil testing activity.

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