Land acquisition for 17.62-km stretch delayed

The National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) has decided to invite a Request for Proposal (RFP) for converting a 26-km stretch of the NH-66 bypass from Kazhakuttam to Mukkola into a four-lane road.

The move follows a delay in handing over land for the 17.62-km stretch of the road up to Karode on the Kerala-Tamil Nadu border.

Panel's aproval

The Public-Private Partnership Appraisal Committee of the Union government had recently given approval for the project to be taken up on a public-private partnership mode at a cost of Rs.577.95 crore.

An NHAI official told The Hindu on Monday that five firms had participated in the Request for Qualification (RFQ), and the NHAI had completed the screening and the evaluation.

Pressure from local MP and Union Minister of State for Human Resource Development Shashi Tharoor was another reason for beginning the work on a piecemeal.

The RFP for the 26 km will have to be floated by the NHAI headquarters in New Delhi.

Tender formalities

The tender formalities will take six months. The work will be completed within a time frame of 36 months.

The 43.62-km stretch from Kazhakuttam to Karode is part of the 212-km NH-47 (now NH-66) bypass project of the NHAI from Thuravur that had started in 1974. The 22-km first phase from the Kazhakuttam junction to the Kovalam junction had been converted into two-lane 15 years ago and was open to traffic.

Land had been acquired for a four-lane stretch and to the extent of 45 metres along the bypass on the Kazhakuttam-Chakka-Eenchakkal-Kovalam stretch. The NHAI had decided to make it a four-lane stretch up to Mukkola on the Balaramapuram-Vizhinjam road rather than halting it at Kovalam junction.

Fixing the fair value for the land in the Chenkal and the Karode blocks of Neyyattinkara taluk has been the major hurdle in completing the land acquisition for the remaining 17.62-km stretch.

In November last, the three-day District Level Purchase Committee meeting to fix the fair value of land belonging to 400-odd people in the two blocks had to be suspended after a section of land owners demanded higher fair value than the Rs.4.14 lakh a cent fixed for ‘A’ class plots with access to Public Works Department roads.

With the land owners not budging from the demand for Rs.5.25 lakh a cent as sanctioned for ‘A’ class plots in the adjoining Kottukal, Kanjiramkulam, and Thirupuram blocks, the district administration was preparing to go ahead with the process as per law. A top revenue official said the State-Level Purchase Committee headed by the Chief Secretary would take a decision in this regard on January 23.

An NHAI official said the work on the remaining stretch would be taken up after the land acquisition was completed.