Express News Service
THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: With Covid-19 tightening its grip, the work on major infrastructure projects in the district has taken a hit. The construction of the Vizhinjam container terminal project, which was already delayed for various reasons, is the worst affected. Other ongoing projects, including the construction of Mukkola-Karode NH-66 and Kazhakoottam elevated highway, have also been affected.
Unavailability of workforce is cited to be the main reason behind the crisis. Many of the migrant labourers are under quarantine while some of them never returned to the state since the first wave of the pandemic.
In case of the Vizhinjam project, lack of rocks required for the construction of breakwater was already posing a challenge. Besides, the new order of the National Green Tribunal (NGT) that the quarries should function at a distance of 200 metres with the residential areas instead of 50 metre distance earlier had also become a major hurdle. Now, with the dearth of workers, the project has been badly affected.
“Besides the shortage of rocks, the absence of labourers has affected the smooth functioning of the project. As senior officers involved in the project are also under quarantine at their native places, meetings are not being conducted. We don’t know when the pandemic will subdue and the project is yet to gain momentum,” said Dr Jayakumar, chief executive officer, Vizhinjam International Seaport Limited (VISL).
Meanwhile, the work on second phase of Kazhakoottam-Karode NH-66 — stretching from Mukkola near Kovalam to Karode near Kerala-Tamil Nadu border — is also going at a snail’s pace. According to P Pradeep, project director, National Highways Authority of India, many of the labourers who were involved in the work have been quarantined at their respective labour camps in the district.
“Work on only four kilometres of the stretch are pending and we need at least 450 labourers to complete the project. However, 120 workers are under quarantine as most of the camps are in containment zones. Only a limited number of labourers come to the site and it has affected the pace of the work,” he said. The commissioning of the 16.3km-stretch, which will be the first-ever concrete highway in the state, was scheduled in the last week of May. However, due to the current scenario, the project is scheduled to be completed in October.