Narrow, encroached roads a major poll issue in Kochi


Waterlogging caused by narrowing down of Kareethodu canal too a matter of concern

The fast-developing eastern side of the four-km-long Palarivattom-Vyttila NH Bypass is choking under the pressure of narrow and heavily encroached upon roads being not able to handle the ever-increasing number of private, public transport, commercial and goods vehicles that criss-cross the city.

Subsequently, candidates in the fray for the local body polls are facing a barrage of questions from residents and others who are at the receiving end owing to inadequate roads and allied infrastructure. Intense waterlogging caused by the narrowing down of the Kareethodu canal due to encroachments is yet another concern. The waterbody that runs parallel to the NH Bypass stretch and empties into the Kaniampuzha river, passes through four divisions under the Kochi Corporation.

“We are often at a loss for words to assuage concerns raised by voters, since the corporation, during both LDF and UDF rule, failed to remove encroachers from roads and the canal,” said a candidate, a long-term politician, who is contesting elections for the first time. Over time, this emboldened encroachers, both residents and owners of commercial buildings, who audaciously encroached upon even the bellmouths of bottlenecked junctions. This further choked them, causing traffic hold-ups and accidents. Over the years, a few councillors aided or turned a blind eye to such encroachers, while others fear erosion of voter base, if they take a stern stand against those who usurp public space, he added.

The recent proliferation of godowns made matters worse, since many of them do not have adequate space to park goods carriers. They often end up occupying scarce space on narrow roads, further hampering movement of motorists and pedestrians. Such encroachments abound on Chakkaraparambu Road, Puthiya Road (which runs parallel to Civil Line Road), Vennala High School Road, and a whole lot of other roads maintained by the Kochi Corporation that take off from the NH Bypass and merge into the Alinchuvadu-Thripunithura Road which runs parallel to the NH Bypass.

Ernakulam District Residents Association Apex Council (EDRAAC) president P. Rangadasa Prabhu said encroachments could easily be removed now, since the District Collector was heading the corporation till the next regime assumes charge. “The Collector has yet another advantage in that he wields magisterial powers. He must lead the way in removing encroachers, and, if need be, set in motion the land acquisition process, to acquire requisite land to widen bellmouths of narrow junctions,” Mr. Prabhu said.

Thrikkakara MLA P.T. Thomas said the corporation did not have funds to acquire land to widen roads. “Obstructions on roads can be overcome, if the PWD takes over a few roads and develops them to cater for the increasing traffic,” he added.

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