Thursday, February 9, 2023

Kerala High Court rejects PIL against demolition of Brahmapuram Bridge and Kozhichira bund for Water Metro Project

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The Kerala High Court disposes of PIL seeking urgent intervention in the demolition of Brahmapuram Bridge and Kozhichira bund, in connection with the Water Metro Project.

Filed by one M.M. Basheer, the PIL contended that the Brahmapuram Bridge was situated across the Kadambrayar connecting Puthencruz Grama Panchayath and Thrikkakkara Municipality, in Ernakulam District. The Bridge also provides connectivity between Infopark, Smart City and Brahamapuram Waste Treatment Plant.

In addition to the general/public, 60,000 employees working in the Infopark, Smart City and thousands of students in the nearby education institutions are using the bridge for their daily commute.

According to the petitioner, as there is no sufficient vertical clearance for the metro boats to pass under the bridge, the respondents have decided to demolish the bridge and reconstruct the same.

However, the grievance is with regard to the decision taken by the Principal Secretary to the Government, Public Works Department, Public Office Complex, Thiruvananthapuram and the Principal Secretary to the Government, Planning and Economic Affairs (RKI) Department, Thiruvananthapuram – the second and third respondents to demolish the Bridge without taking into account the public interest and without putting in place any effective alternative in the event of demolition of bridge.

It is further submitted that once the demolition work commences, the road leading to the bridge will be closed.

Due to the dilapidated state of Perumbavoor-Kothamangalam road and Muvattupuzha-Pallikkara-Kizhakambalam road, there is increased traffic through the Brahmapuram Bridge road and the Bridge is considered as life line for the general public.

According to the petitioner, the respondents, therefore, ought to have taken a decision, in public interest, to retain the Bridge and construct a bridge parallel to the existing one with sufficient vertical clearance. 

According to the petitioner, the 2nd and 3rd respondents suggested 3 parallel routes, in the event of demolition of the Bridge till it is reconstructed.

However, parallel routes suggested are not viable as an additional 13-20 km will have to be covered to reach the destination by those working at IT Companies and educational Institutions in Infopark, Smart City and nearby areas.

It is reliably learnt that on a daily basis not less than 220 trucks carrying garbage and waste materials are using the Bridge to reach the waste treatment plant.

Once the Bridge is demolished, the Infopark-Karimugal road will be closed and all the garbage trucks will have to go via crowded areas, causing increased expenses as well as extreme inconvenience to the general public. The petition said none of these aspects were considered while granting sanction to demolish the bridge.

It was also submitted that in addition to the issue of demolition of Bridge, the respondents have also decided to move the Kozhichira Bund, which is across the Kadambrayar river, up the stream for the purpose of construction of a boat yard and the boat terminal at Info Park.

It is submitted that the Bund across the Kadambrayar plays an important role in regulating the salinity of river water by preventing the flow of saline water from Chambakkara Canal into the river.

If the Bund is demolished without making alternative arrangements, it will result in increased salinity of the river water, which will lead to severe drinking water issues to thousands of families and establishments on the bank of Kadambrayar.

This will also affect the vegetation and cultivation in the area as these are completely dependent on the water from the river.

It is in this background that the petitioner has filed the instant petition seeking the aforementioned reliefs.  

When the matter came up for admission, by inviting attention of the High Court to a letter dated 14.12.2022 of the Executive Engineer, Kerala Public Works Department, Bridges Division, Kakkanad, Ernakulam, K.P. Harish – Senior Government Pleader, submitted that re-construction of the Brahmapuram Bridge across the Kadambrayar connecting Puthencruz Grama Panchayath and Thrikkakkara Municipality in Ernakulam District, has been discussed and the following decisions have been taken:
“The work is tendered and agreement executed between PWD and the contractor. However decision regarding the reconstruction of Bhrahmapuram Bridge is kept in abeyance as it is decided to demolish the Kuzhichira Bund (which is on the downstream side of the river) in the meeting held by the Hon ble Chief Minister of Kerala with Chief Secretary on 30.11.2022 But the minutes of the meeting is yet received in this office till date.”

Submission of the Senior Government Pleader is placed on record. The Division Bench of Chief Justice S. Manikumar and Justice Shaji P. Chaly is of the view that there is no need to issue any directions, at this juncture, as prayed for in the petition.

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