There is no end in sight to the woes of commuters along NH 17 as the State government has not formulated a plan to widen the extremely narrow Edapally-Kuttipuram stretch on the busy highway.
Land not added
To a question on the inordinate delay in beginning widening works in the stretch, Minister for Public Works V.K. Ibrahim Kunju told media persons here on Thursday that land was acquired at a width of 30 metres many years ago to widen the Edapally-Muthakunnam portion of the highway.
But the acquired portion has not been added to the road’s width. “Though the Centre insists that the highway be widened to 45 metres (to do the road widening and maintenance works on a BOT basis), there is fierce opposition to further land acquisition,” he said.
On why the PWD (NH wing) was not widening the highway up to Kuttipuram as a 30-metre-wide four-lane road, Mr. Kunju said the agency could ‘delink’ the stretch and widen it. “But this would involve major expenditure.”
The samara samithy protesting against further land acquisition in the stretch had opposed the proposal to have a 45-metre-wide highway.
Over 3,000 families had surrendered their lands in Ernakulam district over a decade ago, to develop the 30-metre-wide highway. They rebuilt their houses on whatever land was left with them.
The samithy said that a six-lane road can be built sans a service road in the 30-metre-wide alignment, by setting apart a width of 3.5 metres for each lane. The six-lane carriageway would thus occupy just 21 metres, while a four-lane carriageway requires 15 metres width.
A three-metre-wide central median and three-metre-wide footpaths/drains on either side too can be built, all within the 30-metre-wide road. As per estimates, 100 more acres would have to be acquired just in Ernakulam district alone to have a 45-metre NH 17.