Its gladdening to see the surge of activities hotting up in my hometown, perhaps for the first time in the 50-odd years of Kerala history. Trivandrum is right up there, among the new age cities of India, waiting to ride the IT wave.
Even though the Technology Park concept was sown and sprouted in Trivandrum, it took almost 2 decades for the city to blossom into a noticeable IT destination. Unfortunately, lack of a strong traditional business community and absence of political willpower retarded the city's growth, almost to a standstill.
But it seems as if the city is shrugging off the threads attached. Technopark has grown from a mere 5000+ employees in 2003 to over 18,000 by 2007 end, showcasing names like Infosys, E&Y, Allianz Cornhill, IBS and UST Global, with Satyam, TCS, Patni soon arriving. Technopark is transforming Kazhakkoottam, a languid village 15 km from city-center, into a dynamic suburb threatening to outdo the mother city in all aspects.
An area of nearly 140 sq km is awaiting infrastructural uplifting to keep pace with the IT, commercial & real estate development. This area accommodates the Akkulam-Mangalapuram Highway(14 km) and the 5km radius around it. Thats double the present size of Trivandrum city. This new city is taking shape with the NH 47 including the Bypass as the arterial avenue, relying heavily on the IT development centered around Technopark and the proposed Technocity. Industrial initiatives such as Film Park, Apparel Park, Brahmos Missile Centre, along with Life Sciences Park and Telecom City firmly announce the arrival of Kazhakkoottam, and a new city for Trivandrum.
Luckily for this satellite town, the major infrastructural necessities are already in place or fast taking shape. This is unlike Trivandrum, where even after 50 years the Govt has not finished developing the main thoroughfare, the MG Road, into a decent one. NH 47 will soon be widened into a 4 laned one. The biggest Railway terminus in Kerala, with 10 platforms is getting ready at Kochuveli, served by roads on either sides(Even now it has 2 entries, one on the Veli Road and the new one on the Bypass side). Most importantly it wont be drowned in a drizzle, as what happens now in Trivandrum Central Terminal. Moreover Veli, Kazhakkoottam, Kaniyapuram & Murukkumpuzha Railway stations are already operational and just 1km away from the highway. May be we could even think of new stations between Kochuveli and Chirayinkeezhu once the suburban Rail System kicks off. Trivandrum International Airport is just a breeze away from the heart of this new city- Kazhakkoottam Bypass Jn.
So transport and connectivity isn't a big headache.
The industrial foundations of Kazhakkoottam is already strong with the real estate merchants vying for a pie. At least 3 dozen residential projects are sprouting up from the verdant greenery accounting for over 4000 units, just for a start. Hilton, Rajadhani Group, Taj, Nikunjam & Raheja are the early birds in hospitality front. Mall projects from Nitesh Estates, SFS, Prozone, Plaza Centres et al will redefine shopping experience in Trivandrum. What's more, even a waterfront is slowly evolving along the Akkulam lake shore, which will change the aesthetics of the new city!
That just means Kazhakkoottam is promising what Trivandrum always hoped for. The advantages are numerous: straight and wide highway which will serve as radial road; in-place transport infrastructure; flat terrain, vast, unused land for development; good industrial background providing a golden opportunity for a planned, sustainable development.
The nation is already taking notice as evidenced by the studies and articles projecting the rise of Trivandrum, which obviously will focus around Kazhakkoottam. And to fuel its growth Govt of Kerala needs to give ear to articles like this:
The news item in Malayala Manorama cries out about the shortage of power and water in the Technopark area. Just a few months into its rebirth, Kazhakkoottam is already feeling the heat. The issue is not a small one as the authorities are dealing here with an area bigger than the present city.
Water, drainage and electricity are quintessentials without which no city can survive. The IT population alone is expected to add 2 lakh inmates to this area, not mentioning the adjacent industrial parks. So the success of Trivandrum essentially relies on how well the authorities can handle this massive pressure of population.
The emerging new downtown of Trivandrum is almost fully encompassed in the map below, and the major landmarks projected...
Apart from the development of the present NH(in red) and the Bypass(in green), we need a network of wide, quality roads connecting the city and peripheries. The container traffic when Vizhinjam materializes is another worry for this highway. Alternatively, the coastal road (shown in red parallel to sea)via Shankhumugham-Veli-Thumba could be connected to Attingal to take this pressure off.
The CET Road, from Chavadimukku to Kulathoor(in blue) must be widened to accomodate 6 lane traffic and must be connected to Kazahkkoottam Railway Station and further to the coastal road. The existing Sainik School Road(in yellow), which connects NH 47 to MC Road must also be developed and connected to this coastal road. The Akkulam- Ulloor Road, which has bright prospects of metamorphosing into a Lakeshore Drive will be a feather in this new city. A Trivandrum-Attingal parallel road also could be envisaged at a later stage, if to avoid a Hosur Road scenario.
The idea of connecting Punalur to Trivandrum by rail is in its embryonic stage. This line, running along the MC Road, is proposed to join Kazhakkoottam which will turn this small station into a major junction in Trivandrum. An integrated City Bus Terminal is required at Kazhakkoottam, with sub-depots at Kochuveli, Pallipuram(Technocity) and one at the Coastal road.
An MRTS for the twin cities would be a possibility in future, probably for a skybus or monorail from Technocity to Vizhinjam, connecting the techno-corridor, various railheads, bus terminals, commercial/residential zones, the International Airport and Vizhinjam harbour. As per reliable sources, proposal for this project has already been submitted!
The TS Canal which runs parallel to the highway and railway track opens up another mode of people and freight transport apart from creating a leisure zone for the new city.
Development of parks, playgrounds and protecting the greenery from being eclipsed will adorn the same charm of Trivandrum to Kazhakkoottam. Let this new city emerge from the shadows of Trivandrum, but without traffic problems, congestion, picketing of Govt offices, dharnas, marches and what else....!
Its not a tall hope but a necessity, because a city which doesn't rebuild itself eventually dies...
Photos courtesy Sudheesh @ Skyscrapercity
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