Work on the Vyttila flyover is likely to grind to a halt for an indefinite period from Wednesday, with the contracting firm deciding to withdraw men and machinery from the work site over the PWD (NH wing) not paying dues that have mounted to ₹13 crore.
The development comes close on the heels of the DMRC seeking long-pending dues of ₹250 crore from the State government for work done since February for Kochi Metro.
It is feared that the withdrawal of men and machinery from the flyover work will further delay the commissioning of the structure which was scheduled to be completed in May 2018. The PWD had extended the deadline to December, citing a host of reasons.
The cessation of work, including the construction and launch of girders, will also worsen traffic snarls in and around the heavily barricaded Vytilla, the biggest junction in Kerala.
Over one lakh passenger car units (PCUs) criss-cross the junction every day.
The contracting firm, which is engaged in constructing the flyover, slip roads on the Palarivattom side and integrating the service roads with the NH Bypass on the Aroor side of the junction, has shot off a notice to the PWD (NH wing), Kerala Infrastructure Investment Fund Board (KIIFB), and the Kerala Road Fund Board (KRFB), stating that it would halt all construction work at Vyttila from Wednesday, it is learnt. A bulk of the ₹13-crore dues was incurred for raising service roads and to construct slip roads. The slip roads, which the PWD had said would be built within three months of the flyover work beginning in December 2017, are incomplete even after 18 months, inviting the wrath of commuters and pedestrians who are caught in chaotic traffic at the junction.
The Kerala Infrastructure Fund Board (KIIFB), the flyover's funding agency, is reportedly averse to sanctioning the revised estimate for the flyover project, which includes additional work such as raising the service roads and building slip roads.
Responding to the development, senior PWD officials said that such “unexpected” issues would further delay the flyover project.
“The KIIFB has not paid even the expenses incurred to cover the approach road to the Vyttila underpass using paver blocks. Neither has it paid the variation estimate of additional materials used for construction works. The PWD (NH wing) is only the executing agency. The agreement was between the contracting firm and KRFB. The KIIFB is refusing to sanction funds for works that were cleared by KRFB,” they said.
Sources in the KRFB, the SPV formed for the flyover project, said that no official communication had been received about the contracting firm stopping work over non-payment of dues.
“The KIIFB will hopefully accord in-principle sanction for the additional works this week. Clearing of dues will follow suit,” they said.