The Kerala High Court on Thursday directed the state government to carry out in three months load test of a defunct Palarivattom flyover in Kochi before demolishing it. A division bench comprising Chief Justice S Manikumar and Justice AM Shaffique gave the direction on a petition by the Ernakulam-based Association of Structural and Geotechnical Consulting Engineers challenging the government's decision to demolish and reconstruct the Palarivattom Flyover.
The High Court directed the government to carry out load test in three months and submit the report before it. The flyover has been shut for traffic since May after it developed cracks within a few years of its construction taken up during the previous UDF tenure. The government can select any agency to carry out the load test, the court said, adding the expense for it should be levied from the firm which constructed the bridge. Last month, the High Court had directed the state government not to demolish it till further orders.
The petitioner contended that the decision to demolish the bridge was taken without conducting load test to ascertain its structural stability. The government in September decided to rebuild the flyover, which has been closed for traffic since May after cracks and potholes surfaced within three years of its commissioning.
It had also ordered a vigilance probe into alleged corruption in the construction of the bridge. The decision to rebuild the flyover was taken after Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan held discussions with PWD minister G Sudhakaran and "metroman" E Sreedharan. Sreedharan had suggested that the flyover be rebuilt and it has been accepted by the government, Vijayan had said.
The petitioner association claimed that the findings of Sreedharan about the stability of the bridge were wrong and he had recommended demolition without carrying out the load test. The association sought the appointment of an independent agency for conducting the test. The construction of the 750-metre long flyover began during the Congress-led UDF government. It was completed during the LDF's tenure in October 2016.
Within three years of its construction, large cracks were noticed in the pier caps of various pillars of the flyover following which it was closed for traffic.
Vijayan had ordered the Vigilance and Anti-Corruption Bureau to probe the alleged corruption in the construction of the flyover. Retired Kerala PWD secretary T O Sooraj and three others -- a top official of the company which constructed the flyover and two officials of a technical consultancy firm -- were arrested by the VACB in connection with the case.