Cites delay in land acquisition, failure to arrive at consensus on width

The National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) has ‘omitted’ the 172-km Kazhakuttam-Cherthala and 111.73-km Edappally-Kuttipuram NH stretches from the National Highway Development Project (NHDP). The roads were to be developed into four-lane carriageways.

The government was aware of the notification issued by ‘omitting’ the stretches, though the official letter was yet to be received from the Union Ministry of Road Transport and Highways, official sources told The Hindu.

Uncertainty prevailed over the development of the 318-km Thalapady-Kuttipuram NH stretch which the NHAI had proposed to develop in three reaches.

The delay in acquiring and handing over the land needed, opposition from people, and a lack of consensus on the width of the carriageway were the reasons for the NHAI decision, sources said.

The NHAI had been demanding the handing over of the entire land in these stretches for taking up the work.

The authority had also hinted that it would withdraw from the project if the width of the carriageway was reduced to 30 metre in the State. With the omission, the NHDP works in the State would now be confined to the development of the stretches, namely, Walayar-Wadakkancherry (55 km), Wadakkancherry-Mannuthy (22 km), and Kazhakuttam-Inchivila (43 km). Of these, work had started on the first two stretches. The NHAI had tendered work on the four-laning of the Kazhakuttom-Inchivila bypass up to Mukkola.

Minister for Works V.K. Ebrahim Kunju told The Hindu that the government would not go back on the development of the NH stretches and was committed to decongesting the roads. A meeting, to be chaired by Chief Minister Oommen Chandy and attended by his Cabinet colleagues and top officials, would be held on May 14 to discuss the issue, Mr. Kunju said.

The PWD had worked out a strategy to take up the development of the NH and it would be tabled at the meeting, sources said.

The Kazhakuttam-Cherthala and Edappally-Kuttipuram stretches respectively came under the 669-km NH-66 from Thalapady to Kaliyikkavila and the 160-km NH-544 from Walayar to Edappally.

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