Land acquisition delays slow down Kochi Metro progress

KOCHI: Some issues related to land acquisition is affecting the otherwise smooth progress of Kochi Metro rail project. Even after discussions and negotiations that have been going on for months, revenue department is unable to take concrete measures for taking over land in some areas.

Land acquisition for parking area as part of Metro rail at Kalamassery is still entangled in a dispute. Following stiff opposition against taking over land given to Apollo Tyres, revenue department was forced to seek alternative land. The plan was to take over HMT land in lieu of land in possession of Apollo Tyres . But the Metro agency made it clear that the alignment could not be changed. “After three rounds of talks between district collector and company authorities, the company has agreed to surrender 60.7R (around 1.5 acres) of land for the purpose. We would soon do a survey of the land,” a revenue official said.

Interestingly, the land was given to the company on lease. As per lease agreement, revenue land given on lease can be taken over whenever there arises a need for government projects. Still the government officials have to plead with those in possession of land to get it back. Though the Metro agency turned down the demand by the company for reducing the extent of land required for the purpose, it had to yield to the company’s pressure for making slight changes in the alignment.

In the case of the land required for Metro Rail Operation Control Centre (MROCC) near Jawaharlal Nehru International Stadium, revenue department could not carry out even the survey works.

Land acquisition near South area is also facing problems due to protests from land owners in the area. “We have already secured the approval from land owners for acquisition for widening the road from Jos Junction to South railway station area. But the land acquisition process for the viaduct of Metro rail is yet to be started,” a revenue official said.

Acquisition of land of from a textile store on MG Road is also causing problems. After several rounds of talks which failed to make any headway, authorities are learnt to have given a waiver to the store.

“We are working on a proposal in which the shop will be able to use the vacant land between pillars of the viaduct of the Metro rail as their parking space. We expect that KMRL and the textile store can sign a memorandum of understanding in this regard soon. Then the issue of acquiring land can be solved,” an official associated with land acquisition said.