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Kerala High Court directs respondents to complete construction of Kelithode bridge soon

The Kerala High Court directed the respondents to complete the construction of Kelithode (Aramana) Bridge, as expeditiously as possible, but within the scheduled period of one year.

The Division Bench of Chief Justice S.Manikumar and Justice Murali Purushothaman disposed a Petitions filed by the Pertitioner aggrieved by the immediate closing of Kelithode “Aramana” bridge on 16.09.2022 without sufficient notice and the inaction of the respondents to construct temporary divergent road and commencing construction of the aforesaid bridge, even after the passage of six months.

Kelithode “Aramana” bridge is located in one of the busiest Sub National Highways, which serves the only route, connecting the places Pudukkad to Pazhayi, Urakam, Thottipal, Thriprayar, Irinjalakuda, Cherpu and many other important places. The said bridge is located in the busiest route in the Sub National Highways connecting Pudukkad region to Irinjalakuda, Thriprayar and Thrissur and other places mentioned above.

It is submitted that the aforesaid bridge is more than 60 years old and its bad condition had already been reported by the Assistant Executive Engineer (Bridges), Public Works Department, Thrissur. On 16.09.2022, considering the dangerous condition of the aforesaid bridge, it was closed and only two wheelers and three wheeler autorikshaws were allowed. For the last six months, there is no step whatsoever taken by the respondents to commence the construction of bridge. Even after the nearby land owners had given consent to give their property for temporary divergent road, no efforts were taken by the respondents to construct the divergent road as well.

It is further submitted that as of now, all the barricades and blockages are being removed and many cars, four wheelers and mini trucks are commencing their service through the bridge, which is creating a dangerous situation to the lives of the people. According to the petitioners, the respondents had completely stopped the bus service through this route, which is causing great amount of financial loss and hardship to the people in the locality. Though Exhibit P2 representation has been submitted, no positive measures have been taken by the respondents.

When the petitions were taken up on 06.02.2023, 06.03.2023 and 20.03.2023, the Court directed the respondents to file their statement/counter affidavit, as the case may be, with supporting documents.

In response to the same, the Assistant Executive Engineer (Bridges), Public Works Department, Thrissur , has filed a statement dated 28.03.2023, which reads thus:

“…. the statement dated 10.01.2023 wherein the factual background in which construction of new bridge has been proposed and details regarding administrative sanction etc. were stated. It was further averred that the construction of diversion road will be commenced only on getting administrative sanction and selection notice is issued to the contractor by the Superintending Engineer, PWD bridges North circle, Kozhikode. In para 11 of the same statement it was submitted that plying of heavy vehicles are barred and the barricade along with the bridge were caused to be damaged and removed which was duly reported to the District Collector, Thrissur and police authorities. It is submitted that administrative sanction for the work has been issued by the Government as per G.O (Rt)No.17/2023/PWD dated 07.01.2023.

  1. Thereafter technical sanction has been issued by the Superintending Engineer, PWD Bridges, Kozhikode on 18.01.2023.
  2. It is submitted that the work was thereafter tendered and selection process has been completed. Selection notice has been issued on 07.02.2023. Pursuant to R3(c) the agreement has been signed between the contractor and the department, on 21.03.2023.
  3. It is submitted that immediately after issuance of selection notice, on 08.02.2023 site was handed over and diversion road has been constructed and the same has been open for traffic on 11.03.2023.
  4. It is submitted that as of now the bridge has been completely closed and the demolition of the bridge is scheduled to 30.03.2023.
  5. It is submitted that as stated in the affidavit dated 10.03.2023, though plying of heavy vehicle barred from the bridge, barricade along with the bridge were deliberately caused to be damaged and removed. The department officials had reinstated the barricade as and when noticed bad mischief was continued hence taken up with District Collector as per letter dated 29.09.2022.
  6. Complaint was also submitted before the District police Chief, Thrissur on the same date seeking immediate actions from the side of the police to curb the illegal activities of certain drivers. It is submitted that there was no lapse on the side of the department in taking measures to prevent the illegal plying of heavy vehicles. It is submitted that with effect from 11.03.2023, the bridge has been completely blocked and no vehicles are permitted to be plyed through the bridge.
  7. It is submitted that as per the Annexure R3(c) agreement the completion period of construction of bridge is one year. It is submitted that department will be taking all possible steps to see that construction of bridge is completed as scheduled.”

From the above counter affidavit, the High Court deduced that construction of the divergent road has been completed and the same has been opened for traffic on 11.03.2023 and that the Department has stated before this court that all possible measures for completing the construction of the bridge would be taken, at the earliest.

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