Aim is world-class development of State highways

Overcoming many hurdles, the Department of Economic Affairs under the Union Ministry of Finance on Saturday signed an agreement with the World Bank to make available Rs.1,166 crore for the second phase of the Kerala State Transport Project (KSTP).

The second phase aims at world-class development of 367 km of State highways spread over eight corridors, which is estimated to cost Rs.2,403 crore.

Finance Minister K.M. Mani in his budget on Friday allocated Rs.280 crore for the project.

The pact was signed by Sanjeev Kaushik, director of Department of Economic Affairs, and Arnab Bandyopadhyay, senior transport engineer, South Asia Region, Sustainable Development Unit India country office, in the presence of T. O. Sooraj, secretary, Public Works, and Joseph Mathew, project director, KSTP.

Public Works Minister V.K. Ebrahim Kunju said decks had been cleared for speeding up road development works with the signing of the agreement.

He reiterated that the second phase would be completed in a time bound manner. The World Bank soft loan was a major achievement for the State and the PWD.

The bids for three road sections — Kasaragod-Kanhangad (27.76 km), Pilathara-Pappinissery (20.90 km), and Thalasery- Valavupara (53.12 km) — had been tendered on the advice of the World Bank to kick off the work before the commencement of the monsoon.

The other stretches identified for the second phase are Thaliparambu- Iratty 4.5 km; Perumpilavu- Pattambi- Perinthalmanna (Nilambur road) 41 km; Chenganur- Ettumanoor 47 km; Ettumanoor-Muvattupuzha 40.9 km; and Punalur-Ponkunnam-Thodupuzha (PM road) 132.22 km.

Over 95 per cent land acquisition for the second phase had been completed during the phase one of the KSTP initiated with World Bank aid in 2002, official sources told The Hindu. Only 3.466 hectares need to be acquired, for which works were in the last phase.

Initially, the World Bank had promised a soft loan of Rs.750 crore for the second phase. Later, the amount was enhanced following a series of discussions between a pre-appraisal mission led by World Bank senior transport economist Simon D. Ellis and the State, PWD and KSTP officials.

The KSTP project was originally estimated to cost Rs.1,612.80 crore. It envisaged quality upgrade of key roads, over 1,600 km, and developing to navigable standards 93 km of inland waterways.

The World Bank aid came to Rs.1,224 crore and the State’s contribution was Rs.388.8 crore. The 257 km-first phase was hit by a host of problems following the delay in making available land for contractors.