The Ministry of Environment and Forests has given clearance for upgrading the 74-km stretch between Surathkal and Kundapur on the National Highway 17 into a four-lane one.

This stretch is part of the 90-km stretch that connects Kundapur to Talapady on NH 17, proposed to be upgraded under the third phase of the National Highways Development Project (NHDP). The remaining 16-km stretch proposed for upgrading into a four-lane one is between Nanthoor Circle here and Talapady on the borders of Kerala. This stretch is yet to get the environmental clearance from the Ministry.

Sources in the National Highways Authority of India (NHAI), which will implement the project, told The Hindu that the Ministry gave the clearance for the 74-km stretch on August 10. With this, a major pre-requisite for implementing the project has been fulfilled, they said. Sources said that the environmental clearance given for the 74-km stretch also covered the aspects related to implementing another project under the coastal regulatory zone (CRZ).

Recommendation

The State Government on January 15, 2009 had recommended to the Ministry that environmental clearance could be given for four-laning the stretch between Nanthoor Circle and Talapady. The Ministry was yet to act on this recommendation.

The total land to be acquired for the project is 238.69 hectares, spread across 67 villages. Of them, 50 villages are in Udupi district and the rest in Dakshina Kannada.

The Government had to acquire the lands under Section 3 (A) and Section 3 (D) of the National Highways Act, 1956. The former referred to preliminary notification, and the latter to final notification, the sources said. The Government has published the final notification on acquiring lands in six villages. These villages are located between Surathkal and Mulky. However, the preliminary notification is yet to be published for acquiring the rest of the lands in the villages between Mulky and Kundapur, and Nanthoor Circle and Talapady.

Sources said that although the NHAI had received three bids for the project, it was unable to award the work to anyone because of a recent change in policy. Under the new policy, the NHAI could award the projects to any agency only if the State governments issued final land acquisition notifications pertaining to 80 per cent of the properties to be taken over. It also expects State governments to have issued preliminary notifications for acquiring the remaining 20 per cent of the properties.

The NHAI proposed to implement the four-laning of the Surthkal-Kundapur stretch on build, operate, and transfer (BoT) basis, sources said.

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