Kochi: The Palarivattom flyover in Kochi, which has been closed for the last four-and-a-half months after experts found defects in its construction, will be rebuilt under the supervision of 'Metro man' E Sreedharan, Chief Mnister Pinarayi Vijayan announced on Monday.
Pinarayi said the construction will be completed in one year. The design and estimate for the structure will be prepared under the leadership of E Sreedharan, the architect of the Delhi Metro Rail. The works will commence by the first week of October, the chief minister said.
Pinarayi said reconstruction is the best feasible option both technically and financially.
The flyover was closed to traffic on May 1 this year, two-and-a-half-years after it was opened. The bridge was built when V K Ibrahim Kunju of the United Democratic Front was Public Works Department minister. The Left Democratic Front had been demanding action against Kunju for corruption.
The flyover was included in the PWD minister's Speed Kerala project and built in 2016. Soon after construction, potholes were found on the bridge.
A report submitted by Sreedharan said that the 750 metre-long structure, built at a cost of Rs 42 crore during the previous government's tenure is crumbling after it was opened for traffic in October 2016. A flyover of similar stature should ideally stand for more than a century.
After the announcement, Sreedharan told Manorama News that the flyover doesn't have be dismantled completely. The piers and pier caps will be rebuilt. Girders will also have to be replaced, he said.
The Vigilance and Anti-Corruption Bureau, which is probing the irregularities in the construction of the flyover, had arrested four, including T O Suraj, former secretary of the Public Works Department (PWD), Sumit Goel, MD of RDS Project Ltd which constructed the flyover; MT Thankachan, former additional general manager of Roads and Bridges Development Corporation of Kerala Limited (RBDCK); and Benny Paul, joint general manager of KITCO, on August 30.
A report submitted by Vigilance Ernakulam unit DySP R Ashok Kumar earlier stated that the flyover was in danger now and that the option of reconstruction should be considered. The report made it clear that even if the maintenance works, under the supervision of the Indian Institutes of Technology (IIT) Madras, is over, the bridge should be rebuilt if it was found to pose a threat to the safety of human lives.
The report also recommended that RDS Projects Ltd should fund the expenses of the new bridge.
The Vigilance report pointed out that though the maintenance works were going on, it was doubtful whether this was enough to resolve the serious flaws of the bridge. The flaws are the result of sub-standard construction and careless supervision, the report said.
A team from the IIT Madras had found several cracks in the girders and pillars. It was also found that these cracks were expanding. Experts have called for extensive inspections and checks even after the works are completed, the Vigilance pointed out.
The Ernakulam unit of the Vigilance had held the probe and submitted the report to the Vigilance director after PWD Minister G Sudhakaran sent a letter in this regard on May 30. The FIR was registered as per the instructions of the director.