Kochi Metro: Land for Metro will be ready in 3 months

Meet resolves issues hindering Pachalam overbridge work – Relief package soon; land for acquisition to be demarcated

Test piling under way at Pachalam where an overbridge is proposed. Photo: Vipin ChandranKochi: Amid concerns regarding the possible delay in commissioning the Kochi Metro rail due to unavailability of land, district collector M G Rajamanickam has said that the entire land for the project would be handed over to Kochi Metro Rail Ltd (KMRL) in three months.

Last week, DMRC chief adviser E Sreedharan had expressed concerns over delay in land acquisition along the Vyttila-Pettah stretch and said that the Metro rail along the stretch won’t be completed within the stipulated time. Rajamanickam said that around 70% of the land required for the project is in revenue department’s possession. “But we are yet to complete the procedures. Objection from a few persons poses a hindrance to land acquisition. If negotiations under fast-track scheme do not yield the desired results by the end of April, we will invoke Land Acquisition Act and take possession of the land,” said the collector.

“Though there was staff shortage, we have filled up the vacancies. A special team has been formed to ensure that the entire land is acquired in three months,” he said.

According to revenue officials, the major hurdle for completing the land acquisition along the Vyttila-Pettah stretch is the stiff opposition from some religious organizations to part with their land.

The land is acquired for widening the road which is a pre-requisite for starting the work on Metro rail. The collector said that he is yet to look into the issue.

On shopowners’ opposition stalling the works on Pachalam railway overbridge (ROB), he said the issue would be sorted out soon. “Officials have been given instructions to demarcate the land which is required for the project,” he said.

The test piling for the Pachalam ROB has already begun.  The 46 cents of land that will be acquired for building the Pachalam overbridge will be demarcated within three days. A relief and rehabilitation package too will be announced shortly. These decisions were taken at a meeting convened in Kochi on Thursday by District Collector M.G. Rajamanickam in which representatives of traders, residents, DMRC and KMRL participated. This followed stiff opposition from traders and residents to the take-over of their land for the bridge and service road even before a compensation package was announced and demarcation stones were laid.

KMRL sources said that State government would shortly release funds to compensate land owners. In the meantime, test piling for the bridge continued on Thursday.

This will be followed by shifting of utilities and subsequently piling will begin, said DMRC sources. The level crossing has been closed, following which motorists have been advised to take alternative routes. Land acquisition for the bridge is minimal and is confined to Vaduthala side of the bridge. A major chunk of land that would be acquired will be for constructing a 4.5-metre service road on the bridge’s eastern side, where one-way traffic will be in place. The bridge’s carriageway will be 7.5 metres wide. There will be a 1.5- metre-wide footpath on the western side.

Closure opposed

In another development, a section of the traders of the Pachalam market obstructed the attempts to close down the trade centre by the Revenue officials of the Kochi Corporation on Thursday.

The officials made the attempt following the orders from the Sate Human Rights Commission and the Kerala State Pollution Control Board. It was on a petition from one of the residents of the area citing the unhygienic conditions of the market that the commission issued the order.

Delina Pinheiro, the councillor representing the area in the Kochi Corporation Council, said the market cannot be closed down without rehabilitating the traders.

Currently, there is no need for closing down the market as the situation has improved there. If the local body was keen on closing it down, it could be done only after providing alternative space for the 27 traders of the market, she said.

Incidentally, the Kochi Corporation had not renewed the licence of the traders this year as it had decided to pull down the shutters.

Unions’ interference slows metro work

Civil works at a few Kochi Metro work sites and at the Kalamassery casting yard have slowed down because of alleged interference by trade unions.

Metro sources said work at Palarivattom station was affected this week since a few trade unions were demanding that more workers with union membership be deployed there: “Already, three union workers have been deployed at the site and their productivity is low compared to that of the trained workforce deployed by contractors. Despite this, contractors are paying them on par or more wages than that is given to trained workers. Now, unions are demanding that contractors deploy more of their workers.”

The Regional Joint Labour Commissioner was expected to visit the site shortly, they said.

Pachalam bridge

The demarcation of boundaries of land that would be acquired for Pachalam bridge has been completed. Locating and shifting cables and pipelines from piling sites will begin this week. Vehicles will be diverted according to the plan charted out by the traffic police.