No consensus yet over Kazhakuttam-Cherthala stretch

The National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) is to go ahead with the four-laning of the Kazhakuttam-Inchivila NH bypass following the delay in arriving at a consensus over the fixing of the alignment of the Kazhakuttam-Cherthala stretch of the National Highway.

A decision in this regard had been communicated to Chief Minister Oommen Chandy by the NHAI authorities during a meeting held here this week, official sources told The Hindu.

The State has also informed the NHAI of its willingness to begin the four-laning of the Kazhakuttam-Inchivila stretch as the widening will get delayed since a consensus is yet to be reached on reducing the width of the Kazhakuttam-Cherthala stretch from 45 m and also because of opposition to land acquisition.

The 43.62-km stretch from Kazhakuttam to Inchivila is part of the 212-km NH-47 bypass project of the NHAI in the State from Thuravur, which had begun in 1974. The 22-km first phase from Kazhakuttam to Kovalam junction had been converted into two lane 15 years ago.

Land had been acquired for a four-lane road and for increasing the width to 45 m along the bypass in the Kazhakuttam-Chakka-Enchakkal-Kovalam stretch and the NHAI can now proceed with the tender formalities.

Official sources said 99 per cent of the land in the second reach from Kovalam to Inchivila had been acquired. The NHAI is also keen to begin the four-laning work as the land acquisition on the Cherthala-Kazhakuttam stretch is in a nascent stage.

The four-laning assumes significance in view of the traffic congestion on the two-lane stretch from Kazhakuttam to Kovalam now. The world-class terminal of the airport in the city side and the expansion of Technopark, both on the side of the bypass, have compounded the problems.

Sources said even if the tender formalities were completed within six months by the NHAI, the four-laning to be taken up as a BOT (build-operate-transfer) project will take three years to complete as several hurdles had to be overcome. The project includes construction of four major bridges, including a new two-lane bridge at Akkulam; 60 culverts; a rail overbridge at Chakka; and 11 underpasses. The construction of the rail overbridge and alignment of two lanes in front of the airport will be major challenges to the project officials.

The bypass, originating from Kazhakuttam and rejoining the NH at Inchivila near the inter-State border at Parassala, was conceived in the 1990s to ease traffic congestion on the Sreekaryam-Neyyattinkara NH-stretch of the capital district and to provide an alternative corridor.

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