Kochi: The long-delayed Pachalam railway overbridge (ROB) project, which was facing a severe fund crunch, has received an unexpected push from the Kochi Metro Rail Ltd (KMRL).
The agency, which had once disowned the project, has decided to pump in Rs 2 crore for completing the land acquisition for the ROB.
According to officials with the revenue department, around 15 landowners from a total of 28 had given consent to surrender their land for the project.
But the revenue department was not able to take over the land due to lack of funds. “With KMRL releasing Rs 2 crore, we will soon be able to take over the land. We will start disbursing the compensation amount from Wednesday,” said deputy collector Shobhana.
A total of 62 cents have to be taken over from 28 landowners. The land value fixed by the district level purchase committee (DLPC) in the area is Rs 15 lakh a cent. The total amount required to compensate landowners and rehabilitate shop owners and house owners, who will lose their residences, for the project is pegged at Rs 15 crore. The revenue department has already given Rs 3.5 crore as compensation to some landowners. For compensating the remaining landowners, it will require Rs 4 crore.
It will also need at least Rs 6 crore to rehabilitate those who have to shift their shops or demolish their houses.
Given the fact that the exact number of those deserving rehabilitation can be decided only after demolishing the buildings, authorities will have time on their hands to provide rehabilitation. So, the department now urgently needs only Rs 4 crore. “We expect KMRL to provide the remaining amount required for land acquisition,” a revenue official said.
According to KMRL, it is not their responsibility to implement the ROB. “It is a project which figures in the list of preparatory works for the Kochi Metro rail. The state government had earmarked separate funds for those works. Now, we have released the funds as a temporary arrangement to help the revenue department complete the land acquisition,” KMRL sources said.
Originally, when the state government had issued the order to construct the ROB at Pachalam, it had fixed KMRL as the implementing agency. But when KMRL found the ROB would escalate the cost of Metro project, the agency requested the government to include it in the preparatory works.
The government then issued an order entrusting PWD with the construction of ROB. But the work failed to gather momentum due to the unavailability of funds. Objections from some local residents against the alignment also caused some delay. “But we didn’t have to stop work even for a single day due to their protests. The work on the project is progressing quickly now,” an official associated with the project claimed.