Considering multiple writ petitions filed against the reconstruction of Palarivattom flyover, the Kerala High Court on Thursday ordered the state government to not start the demolition of the structure until further orders from the court.
Palarivattom flyover, situated in one of the busiest junctions in Kochi, was shut down two years after it was inaugurated and opened to traffic, due to severe structural damages. The closure of the multi-crore flyover within two years had triggered a huge controversy in the state. Four officials of various agencies involved in the construction of the flyover, including former Public Works Department (PWD) secretary TO Soorej, have been arrested in the scam surrounding the flyover construction.
The High Court on Thursday considered writ petitions filed by five petitioners, including KITCO (which provided technical expertise in the flyover construction) and Association of Structural and Geotechnical Consulting Engineers, appealing against the demolition and reconstruction of the flyover.
The court has also asked the state government to consider conducting a load test, to assess the structural response of a bridge under various loading conditions. The court also asked the government for a response in the matter within two weeks and also enquired about which agency will be assigned to carry out the load test.
According to sources, the petitioners had requested the court to make provisions to conduct load test. They also stated that as per clause 11 of the contract, which was signed during the construction of the flyover, if any problem concerning the structure arises, a load test should be conducted.
The flyover was closed for traffic in May 1. An expert team from IIT-Madras, which studied the flyover, had initially submitted a report stating that there was no need to completely reconstruct the structure.
But later, another report submitted by E Sreedharan, Principal Advisor of Delhi Metro Rail Corporation, had stated that major portion of the flyover, except the pillars, need to be reconstructed. Following this, in September, Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan said that the flyover will be demolished and reconstructed within a year, beginning October.
Meanwhile, the court had rejected the bail plea of the four accused in the scam: Sumeet Goyal, managing director of RDS Projects Ltd (the construction company); MT Thankachan, former assistant general manager of Roads and Bridges Development Corporation of Kerala Ltd (RBDCK), a subsidiary of Kerala PWD; Benny Paul, joint general manager of KITCO, and Soorej TO.