The fate of four large projects being implemented by the Kochi Corporation under the Union government-initiated Atal Mission for Rejuvenation and Urban Transformation (Amrut) hangs in the balance.
The scheme was launched in 2015 and the administrative sanction for the projects was obtained in early 2018. Six years later, around 45% of the sanctioned amount of ₹272.063 crore has been utilised.
More than 60% of the funds allocated under the scheme are for water supply and sewerage projects.
The National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) is yet to grant permission for the laying of pipelines from the Kerala Water Authority plant at Maradu to the pump house at Thammanam and approval has been awaited for about two years now, sources at the corporation said. The pipelines, along the service road between Maradu and Vyttila, will carry 18 million litres of water per day, augmenting supply to the city. The ongoing construction of five overhead tanks and laying of pipelines within the city under the Amrut project would be useless unless the NHAI grants permission for this crucial section of the work, they said.
The controversial Padmasarovaram cycle track and walkway along the Chilavannoor lake is another Amrut project, for which ₹9.3 crore was sanctioned. The corporation is set to propose construction of the cycle track and walkway alongside the lake, in an eco-friendly manner, but there is both puramboke as well as private land adjacent to the lake. “Only once a survey is done can we determine if land acquisition will be required, thereby prolonging the process. Coastal Regulation Zone clearance will also have to be sought. This project is unlikely to be complete before the March 2022 deadline for Amrut projects,” sources said.
The corporation has written to the State Level High Powered Steering Committee chaired by the Chief Secretary to seek approval for the changes to the earlier project that had involved construction of a bund in the lake itself. But the steering committee has not met recently since the model code of conduct is in place, the sources said. Mayor M. Anilkumar confirmed that a change in the project has been sought.
The construction of a park under the Amrut scheme, also on the bank of the Chilavannoor lake, had received flak for being environmentally unsound. “The current council does not seem keen on building the park considering the opposition to it. Funds worth ₹1.26 crore that had been set aside for the park are likely to now be used for the G. Sankara Kurup memorial that is coming up near Marine Drive. Permission has been sought from the steering committee for this change in fund utilisation,” sources said.
Work on three decentralised sewage plants in West Kochi is yet to be awarded with no clear decision on how the corporation and the State government will pay for the cost quoted by the contractor in excess of the estimate. The project was estimated to cost around ₹44 crore.