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Kerala High Court closes PIL seeking reconstruction of Komalam Bridge destroyed in monsoon flood of 2021

The Kerala High Court closed a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) filed complaining about the failure of the State authorities to reconstruct the Komalam bridge, destroyed in the monsoon flood of 2021.

Pursuant to the Court’s direction, an affidavit has been filed by the officer concerned stating that the construction of the bridge has been commenced and the work is expected to be completed at the earliest. 

The Counsel for the petitioners submitted that under the Disaster Management Act, the State has an obligation to carry out works of this nature on priority basis and as far as the construction of Komalam bridge is concerned, the authorities have thoroughly failed to follow the prescribed procedure.

Indisputably, the construction works of the bridge has commenced, as revealed from the relevant portions of the affidavit :-

“3. It is respectfully submitted that a memo dated 18.08.2023 was filed producing the report submitted by this respondent. In the report, it was submitted that the tender for reconstruction of the Komalam Bridge at Pathanamthitta District was awarded to ……. Society for an amount of Rs.10.30 Crores and that the date of completion of the work is 18 months from the date of handed over the site. The site was handed over on 20.04.2023. The stage of the work at the time of filing of the memo was also mentioned therein pursuant to the above this Hon’ble Court as per order dated 22.11.2023 was pleased to direct this respondent to file further affidavit with regard to the progress of the work. 

4. It is submitted that as regards the present status of the work, it is reported that dismantling of the old bridge has been completed. Piling work of 2 sets of piles in the river is ongoing. All the piles except 5 piles in this pile groups have been completed. Construction of land span in Komalam side completed and construction of land spans (2 Nos) on Thuruthikkad side is in progress. Concreting of deck slab of this land spans is proposed on 02.04.2024. 35% of the work is completed. Piling work of two set of piles in the river was delayed due to the high water level in the river. Piling work in the river started on January 2024 and is in good progress.”

Therefore, at this stage, the question as to whether such construction is in accordance with the mandate of the Disaster Management Act is not relevant, held by the Division Bench of Chief Justice A J Desai and Justice V.G. Arun.

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