A ‘hanging’ rail overbridge to nowhere

A ‘hanging’ rail overbridge to nowhere
Chengolapadam rail overbridge.

Mulanthuruthy: There is definitely a curious element to the Chengolapadam rail overbridge near here in Ernakulam district. It seems that the bridge hangs in the air without any approach road and one can’t blame the residents if they ask, “should we fly into the bridge?” Those travelling on the Chottanikara-Mulanthuruthy road pull up their vehicles to take a snap of this ‘unique’ rail overbridge that stands on pillars without any approach road. This bridge is trending on social media too.

Though the bridge was completed more than a year ago, it will take many more years before the first vehicle could enter the bridge. The bridge could be opened for traffic only if the approach road to the structure is laid. Unfortunately, the authorities concerned have not initiated any effort to acquire land to lay the road. In the last meeting, the officials promised people, whose land would be acquired for the project, that land acquisition would be completed by November, 2018. But still there is no progress on that front.

The plan was to acquire 142 cents of land from 21 people for the construction of road but to date land from only 4 people, who gave land on their own will, had been taken by the authorities for the project. It was decided that land from remaining people would be acquired as per the provisions of the Land Acquisition Act of 2013. But the delay in land valuation slowed the whole process of acquiring land. The authorities had now assured that land acquisition could be completed in two months’ time.

Great Hardship

The traffic on the Chottanikara-Mulanthuruthy road goes awry when the railway gate is closed. The gate has to be closed quite often for five to 10 minutes resulting in traffic snarls as 3 trains pass through the area in an hour. The traffic on the road is heavy, even at night, as it is used by people travelling from Kottayam to Nedumbassery international airport.

Funds to build the bridge were set aside in the 2014 budget, and the central government had allotted Rs 6 crore to construct the bridge, and the state government earmarked Rs 29 crore to acquire land and lay the approach road. The funds set aside for the road were transferred to the Roads and Bridges Corporation. The construction of the bridge started in November, 2016, and the promise was that the bridge would be opened for traffic after 18 months. But the wait is still on for the residents even after close to three years.

Will take another two years

It would take another two years to complete the road works, said officials of the Road and Bridges Corporation. After acquiring the land, it would take four months to get the technical clearance and complete the tender process for the project. The road could be constructed in 20 months, added the officials. The approach road would be built as a flyover without disturbing the natural stream flowing in the area. The commuters and local residents appeal to the authorities concerned to complete the road works without much delay.

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