Kerala High Court directs PWD counsel to get instructions from state govt on Kelithode bridge work

The Kerala High Court directed the respondent's counsel to get instructions on the construction of a bridge for the use of people at large.

The Division Bench of Chief Justice S. Manikumar and Justice Murali Purushothaman heard a Public Interest Litigation seeking the following reliefs:-

-Issue a writ of mandamus or other appropriate writ, order or direction, directing the respondents to build temporary divergent road to the Kelithode (Aramana) bridge and facilitate vehicular movements at the immediate effect.

-Issue a writ of mandamus or such other appropriate writ, order or direction, directing the respondents to consider and construct “Kelithode (Aramana)” Bridge expeditiously as possible well within a time period as prescribed by this Honourable court.

According to the petitioner, he is a resident of Thrissur District, who is aggrieved by the immediate closing of Kelithode “Aramana” bridge on 16.09.2022, without sufficient notice, and inaction of the respondents to construct temporary divergent road, and commencing construction of the aforesaid bridge even after the passage of 6 months.

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The petitioner submitted that the Kelithode “Aramana” bridge is located in one of the busiest Sub National Highway which serves the only route connecting 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 Highway connecting Pudukkad Region to Irinjalakuda, Thriprayar and Thrissur and other places mentioned above.

The petitioner has further 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, (3rd respondent) . On 16.09.2022, when the said bridge was closed, only two wheelers and three wheeler autorickshaws were allowed, considering the dangerous condition of the aforesaid bridge. For the last 6 months, there is no step whatsoever taken by the respondents to commence the construction of the 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.

The petitioner has also argued 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. The respondents had completely stopped the bus service through this route, which are causing great amount of financial loss and hardship to the people in locality. Even after submission of representation, no positive measures had been taken by the respondents.

When the matter came up for hearing, Sandra Sunny, counsel appearing for the Nenmanikkara Grama Panchayat, (4th respondent), has submitted that for construction of the very same bridge, Trichur District Private Bus Operators Association has filed a petition in which a statement has been filed by the State Government.

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Inasmuch as the reliefs sought for in the present petition and the other petitiion are more or less for the same purpose, namely construction of a bridge for the usage of public at large, including operation of buses, the Bench is of the view that in order to avoid multiplicity of proceedings, it is desirable to have both the petitions posted together.

The Court directed V. Tekchand, Senior Government Pleader appearing for the Chief Executive Engineer, Public Works Department, Thiruvananthapuram, the Chief Engineer Bridges, Public Works Department, Thiruvananthapuram, and the Assistant Executive Engineer Bridges, Public Works Department, Thrissur, respondents 1 to 3 respectively,to get instructions on the averments and prayers sought for and 4th respondent to file counter affidavit / statement of facts, as the case may be, in both the petitions.