Water authority, Kochi Metro argue on pipeline issue

Kochi:  The Kerala Water Authority (KWA) and Kochi Metro Rail Ltd (KMRL) are having continuous arguments on pipeline issue of Kochi Metro. Both the authorities have still not sorted out issues related to shifting pipelines on the Aluva-Pettah route.

While the KWA is under fire for its failure in not shifting water pipelines along the Sahodaran Ayyappan Road, the agency has revealed new facts, putting the blame squarely on the Metro agency.

In 2012, KWA had submitted a proposal along with an estimate to KMRL to shift KWA pipelines along the 25-km long alignment for the Metro rail. But the Metro agency refused to take any initiative, resulting in the current chaos, allege KWA officials.

In a letter written by KWA to KMRL, the agency has asked the Metro authority to pay 10% of the total INR 24.03 crore required for the project as supervisory charges to KWA for shifting utilities along the alignment. As per the estimate, the cost for shifting sewer lines between Padma and Ernakulam south railway station was Rs 9.95 crore. Since KWA failed to find sketches of the pipeline network along the Metro rail alignment, the agency informed KMRL that they would lay new pipelines instead of shifting existing ones.

“When we carry out a work, it involves time consuming tender procedures. So we wanted KMRL to take up the tender process,” said K S Babu, superintending engineer, KWA.

But KMRL authorities denied the charged leveled by KWA. “The KWA’s cost for the project was high. We have pointed this out to them,” said Elias George, managing director, KMRL.

The pipeline project on SA Road, meanwhile, was awarded to a contractor under the Kerala Sustainable Urban Development Project (KSUDP) in 2011, adding to the confusion.

“In 2011, under the KSUDP scheme, the work for laying new pipelines on either side of the around 3.25-km stretch of SA road was awarded to a contractor. He completed preparations including procuring pipes to be laid using KSUDP funds. But the Kochi corporation denied permission to dig up the road, citing it was just relaid under bituminized macadam and bituminized concreting (BMBC) method,” said K S Babu, superintending engineer, KWA.

Following this delay, the contractor demanded the cost be revised by 30%. “But the KWA turned down the request for cost revision. We had convened 12 meetings to sort out various issues including availing the sanction for digging the road, but in vain,” said K K Abdul Jaleel, project manager, KSUDP.

Fortunately, the KWA has now decided to lay the new pipeline on either side of SA Road on its own. The agency has issued a fresh tender as nobody took part in the tender invited in September. “We have decided to invite fresh tender on October 15. It will take at least three to four months to complete the tender procedures and start the work,” a KWA official said.