82-km Kannur-Vengalam stretch to be developed into four lanes

Renewed efforts will be taken to accelerate the steps for acquiring land for widening the Kannur-Vengalam reach of the National Highway 17 (NH-17) to develop it into a four-lane highway.

Public Works Minister V.K. Ebrahim Kunju will be holding a meeting at the collectorate here on November 24 to discuss the issues relating to the stalled acquisition of land for the widening of the 82-km Kannur-Vengalam reach, and the proposed Kannur and Thalassery-Mahe bypasses. The land acquisition procedures were earlier affected by the controversy over the 60-metre standard width of the NHs, which the National Highway Authority of India (NHAI) reduced to 45 metres considering the fact that the highways in the State pass through densely populated areas. Later, an all-party meeting endorsed the NHAI's proposal for 45-metre width.

The Kannur-Vengalam reach is one of the packages of the NH-17 widening project. The upgrading of the two-lane stretch to a four-lane divided highway involves widening of the carriageway; re-alignment; construction of service roads, the bypasses, and of new bridges and culverts as well as toll plazas. Difficulties in land acquisition are expected to be the major obstacle in the way of the project, with those facing eviction likely to renew their protest against the acquisition.

The project stretch starts from the Valapattanam Bridge north of the Kannur town and ends at Vengalam in Kozhikode.

“All the MLAs representing the areas through which the highway or the proposed bypasses pass assured the Chief Minister at a recent meeting that they would actively involve in the efforts to speed up the land acquisition works in their respective constituencies,” Kannur MLA A.P. Abdullakutty said.

Of the total 82-km reach of the project highway, land acquisition was already completed for widening 13 km, he said. The KMC Constructions Ltd., which is executing the work on a Build-Operate-Transfer (BOT) basis, had stated that it would start the widening work as soon as the land was acquired, the MLA said.

The project envisages strengthening of the existing sub-standard two-lane carriageway and widening it to four lanes for augmenting the capacity of the highway. It is also envisaged as a partially access-controlled divided four-lane carriageway with 1.5 metre paved and 1.0 metre earthen shoulder along with raised median with drainage arrangements.

According to the Public Works Department (NH) officials, the existing road width between Kannur and Kozhikode varies widely at different locations, which is 11 metres to 20 metres in general and 30 metres to 40 metres in short stretches at Edakkad and Vadakara. The NH-17 stretch passing through the Mahe town records the narrowest road width of 8 to 10 metres. The divided carriageway exists only in small stretches in the project highway. The Kannur bypass (18 km), Thalassery-Mahe bypass (18 km) and Koyilandi bypass (11 km) are the bypasses being developed as part of the highway-widening project.

NH-17 now serves as the major road carrying traffic from its surroundings to other parts of the State and rest of the country. The development of the North-South corridor at Salem through NH-47 will attract more traffic to the NH-17 from the region and allow it to connect the State to Karnataka, Goa and Maharashtra, the officials said. The NH-17 starts in Mangalore, passes through Kasaragod, Kannur, Mahe, Kozhikode and Kuttippuram and finally ends at Edappally (438 kms).

The officials said that the land acquisition for the 45-metre wide Kannur bypass has to be done afresh. Total land requirement for the bypass is 76.95 hectares. Total land required for the Thalassery-Mahe bypass is 81.14 ha, of which land totalling 44.10 ha has been acquired. An extent of 49.50 ha of land is required for the Koyilandi bypass.