Staff Reporter

People oppose acquisition as per the drawn out alignment

The project was conceived five

years ago

Initial cost estimate of project was Rs.4,000 crore

ALAPPUZHA: The crucial four-lane expansion plan for the National Highway 47 from Cherthala in Alappuzha district to Thiruvananthapuram is once again facing obstacles, with a public resistance to land acquisition questioning the very future of the project.

The project, conceived nearly five years ago, had found contractors earlier this year only, that too after several rounds of calls for bidders. The detailed project report too is ready.

The project, the initial estimate of which was Rs.4,000 crore, is to be implemented in three packages—the 84-km stretch from Cherthala to Ochira, the 86-km stretch from Ochira to Thiruvananthapuram and the 43-km stretch from Thiruvananthapuram to the Tamil Nadu border.

District Collectors of Alappuzha, Kollam and Thiruvananthapuram have been entrusted with land acquisition and once 80 per cent of land is acquired, work will begin. And that is where the latest stumbling block has cropped up, particularly in Alappuzha where even a joint action council opposing the acquisition has been constituted.

The NH-47, at present, has four lanes only on the Aroor-Cherthala stretch, that too without proper service roads. The rest of the stretch, with just two lanes, bears a traffic density usually borne by a four-lane highway, that too on an extreme scale.

The delay in developing the road in proportion to the number of vehicles; over-speeding and drunken driving; and absence of regular maintenance have resulted in fatal accidents on an almost a daily basis.

Wednesday was no different when two persons were killed in a road accident here. The public resistance is to acquisition of land as per the drawn out alignment to have a width of 45 metres instead of the existing 30-metre width.

While NHAI plans to do this as per the alignment, which means that acquisition will not be on equal measures from both sides of the road, the public insist that the additional 15 metres should be taken by acquiring 7.5 metres each from both sides.