Projects costing Rs. 14,500 crore to be implemented

Signalling a policy shift, the State government has decided to take over the development of the National Highway network in Kerala and the collection of road toll.

Minister for Public Works V.K. Ebrahim Kunju told reporters here on Monday that the widening of NH 17 and NH 47 would be taken up by the Public Works Department (PWD) utilising the land available for development.

A total of 96.2 km of the NH network could be developed to a width of 45 m, while another 283 km could be widened to 30 m with service roads on both sides.

The priority would be to develop these stretches at the earliest.

A high-level meeting to be held here on May 14 would finalise the project, he said.

Mr. Kunju said the government was forced to look at other options after the National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) withdrew from the road widening project following stiff resistance to land acquisition.

Forced eviction of families would not be resorted to, he added.

The government would also take over the collection of toll from the concessionaire companies and fix the toll at reduced rates.

The companies would be compensated through an annuity scheme of 30 years.

Unveiling the department’s Mission 676, he said projects costing Rs.14,500 crore would be implemented in the State. While the development of monorail networks in Thiruvananthapuram and Kozhikode and the development of National Highways would be taken up under the Navaratna package, the development of 23 roads and the construction of flyovers and the IT Corridor in Kochi would be implemented as a flagship project under the Speed Kerala programme.

Other schemes, including KSTP phase 2, State Road Improvement Project and the construction of a PWD Complex at Neriamanagalam and Secretariat annexe in Thiruvananthapuram had also been included in Mission 676, he added.

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