The Kerala Sastra Sahithya Parishad (KSSP) has urged the State government to abandon the build-operate-transfer (BOT) system for National Highway development in the State and to restrict the road width to 30 metres in the wake of Union Minister of Surface Transport Oscar Fernandes’s statement that the States can decide on the width of the highways.

KSSP president N.K. Sasidharan Pillai and general secretary V.V. Sreenivasan said here in a statement that the Minister’s announcement came when the State government was repeatedly stating that the 45-60 metre width and BOT model were the Central government’s requirements that could not be altered.

They said that widening of the NHs to 45 m for vehicles to drive at a speed of 120 kmph would have serious social impact in the State where the population density is over 3,000 per square km. Calling on the government to consider the traffic issues on the Angamaly-Mannuthi NH stretch after widening it into 45 m, they said pointed out that vehicles passing through the stretch could not exceed 60 kmph because of population and vehicle density. The stretch is a nightmare for pedestrians, they said adding that accidents in the area are on the rise because of excess speed, unscientific road construction and inadequacy of road signals. The accident rate on the four-lane Angamaly-Edappally stretch is comparatively less, they noted.

They said there were several stretches on the NH 17 where land for developing it into 30 m had been acquired 20 years ago.

If the NH was to be developed into 45-m wide, the residents would face eviction once again.

Studies showed that 70 per cent houses and commercial establishments could be exempted from eviction if the width is 30 m. Political parties in the State should exert pressure on the government in this regard, the KSSP leaders said.

KSSP says Oscar Fernandes’s has stated that the States could decide on the width of NHs.