June 18, 2019
Kochi: Construction for destruction seems to be the propelling forces when it comes to two mega projects involving public money. The two in Kochi, the financial capital of Kerala, are on the verge of demolition due to alleged corruption.
At a time when new multi-storey flats are getting ready to meet their untimely death for coastal regulation violation in Maradu, another newly built over bridge is going to face the same fate as a result of sub-standard construction.
The state government has approached Chennai IIT to help it demolish the flats with minimum impact on the environment.
The same IIT has found the Rs 52-crore State Government-built overbridge on the busy NH 66 at Palarivattom is unsafe for use.
Following this, the vigilance department suggested its demolition and filed a report in the vigilance court at Muvattupuzha in Ernakulam district seeking action against officials responsible for sub-standard construction material like using cement and lesser quantity of steel among others.
In both cases, officials are only blamed with politicians going scot-free.
In the flat case, the secretary of Maradu panchayat was the target while in the bridge case it was officials of different departments, including the private designer and the Roads and Bridges Development Corporation of Kerala.
The work of the bridge should have actually gone to the National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) as it is on the NH.
Justifying the State Government’s taking up the work, former Mayor of Kochi Tony Chammany of the Congress said the NHAI would have imposed toll on the bridge and would have taken longer time to complete it. Ironically, Kochi Metro, a subsidiary of the Delhi Metro, started work in 2013 and has started operations from Aluva to Maharaja’s College, 22 km and will soon open services up to Petta, covering a distance of 26 km in a meticulous manner.
The question why the State Government did not assign the work on the sensitive sector to Kochi Metro or NHAI or any other private institution having strong credibility is the question asked by all and for which no answer is being given by the authorities.
Former Union Minister KV Thomas told The Covai Post that there was nothing wrong in assigning the work to Kochi Metro. But he disagreed to assign all such work across the State, bypassing government agencies like PWD and RBDCK.
But ultimately it is the public bearing the brunt.
Environmentalist John Peruvanthanam said that so long as there is economic governance, such things would continue to happen.
The public should take the initiative to move from economic governance to an ecological one to stop exploitation of public money.
Demolition would certainly create environmental problems and the only thing the supervising agency should do was to re use the steel and stones, he said.
It was only a couple of years back that Chief Minister inaugurated the bridge, claiming credit for completing it.
The CPM-led LDF had undertaken completion, while the majority work on the bridge was completed during the Congress-led UDF regime.
Construction began in September 2014 and it was for the first time in the State that a four-lane flyover was constructed on a single pillar.