Several professional, commercial and social organisations have formed a joint platform to voice concern about the move to reduce the width of national highways from 45 metres to 30 metres.
The organisations, including Kerala Management Association, Confederation of Indian Industry, Confederation of Real Estate Developers Association of India (Credai), Kerala Chamber of Commerce and Industry and The Indus Entrepreneurs (TIE) Kerala have urged the State government to retain the width at a minimum of 45 metres.
At a joint press conference here on Tuesday, representatives of the organisations released a study report which focused on the need for a 45-metre highway. The report was prepared by the Centre for Public Policy Research (CPPR), using the data collected from government and other authentic sources.
The consortium of organisations sought to allay fears on the compensation and rehabilitation. The National Highways Authority of India was understood to have decided to pay a compensation exceeding double the market value in deserving cases and an official declaration was awaited, according to them.
The total number of dwellings affected by the land acquisition is about 11,000 and the total number of persons directly affected is 50,000, according to a study. Misinformation on the number of people being affected was being circulated by certain quarters to thwart the widening, they said.
It is estimated that around 8.5 lakh persons use the National Highways in Kerala every day. Due to deteriorating road conditions, huge losses on account of loss of man hours, fuel, maintenance and wear and tear of vehicles are being incurred. An estimated Rs.7.5 crore could be saved a day, the report said.
In order to handle the traffic of a large number of fast-moving vehicles, apart from the main carriage way, the service roads, pedestrian pathways, road shoulders are essential. The present road network is experiencing traffic levels higher than the road capacity.
Research shows that the traffic volume will exceed capacity levels by nearly three times in 10 years time and about six times in 20 years. Every day, Kerala witnesses an average of 11 accidental deaths and 120 grievous injuries.
Those who addressed the press conference included Najeeb Zacharia, president Credai, Kochi, P.C. Cyriac, chairman, Cochin Stock Exchange Limited, Jayathilakan, president, KMA, K.M. Abdulla, chairman, Kerala Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Shivdas Menon, member, TIE Kerala and Alex Thomas, member, CII Kerala.