Kochi flyover built 3 years ago develops cracks, to be demolished


A flyover in Kochi, which developed cracks three years after it was constructed, will be demolished and a new bridge will be built under the supervision of ‘Metro Man’ E Sreedharan, Kerala chief minister Pinarayi Vijayan said on Monday.

Built in 2016 with a cost of Rs 47.7 crore, the flyover on the National High Way 66 bypass in Palarivattom was closed for traffic in May this year after major cracks were seen in its pillars and girders. Notorious for traffic congestion, the new flyover was a big boon for residents of Kochi but their optimism was short-lived after it was closed down.

“We have accepted E Sreedharan’s recommendations and requested him to supervise the project which will be completed in a year,” the chief minister said.

Last month, the state vigilance and anti-corruption bureau had arrested former IAS officer and Public Works Department secretary TO Sooraj and three others in connection with alleged irregularities in the flyover’s construction. After his arrest Sooraj, a controversial officer said he was made a scapegoat and that he will expose all behind “corrupt deals”.

Engineering experts from IIT-Madras found that its design was faulty and low-quality materials were used to build the 750-metre long bridge with approach roads on both sides. Then E Sreedharan also examined the flyover on the state government’s request.

The construction of the flyover, which was built under the previous UDF regime and completed during the present government in 2016, had exposed alleged nexus between politicians, bureaucracy and contractors.

It had also triggered a blame game between the opposition United Democratic Front (UDF) and ruling LDF (Left Democratic Front). The ruling coalition said the previous government was responsible for the mess but the UDF claimed the present dispensation had given the fitness certificate and inaugurated the flyover with much fanfare.

Former PWD minister Ibrahim Kunju has said he is ready to face any inquiry.

Sumit Goyal, the managing director of construction company RDS Projects Limited, Benny Paul of KITCO, the technical consultant for the project, and general manager of the Roads and Bridges Development Corporation of Kerala PD Thankachhan were among those arrested. The vigilance bureau had levelled many charges, including corruption, conspiracy and misuse of funds, against them.