N.J. Nair

Problems in finding land for the road

Project is part of a national network

It will pass through the coastal region

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: The uncertainty over finalising the width of the national highway stretches and the alleged resistance against land acquisition are likely to affect the development of the proposed Indian National Expressway Network in the State.

A 400-km reach between Kanyakumari and Thrissur has been included in the network which aims at achieving a target of 15,600 km by 2022, the end of the 13 {+t} {+h} Plan period. The expressway would pass through the coastal region of the State which offloads the traffic on the NH-47 connecting Kanyakumari, Thiruvananthapuram, Ernakulam and Thrissur.

It is expected to offer a greater scope for weaning away some traffic from other competing modes with the possibility of the average trip length being doubled in due course of time.

It is expected to complement the existing arterial network of the State in terms of connectivity and performance.

90-metre width

Last week the State government received a confirmation letter from the Centre in response to its request for including Kerala in the network. The width of the proposed expressway is 90 metres and is unlikely to be scaled down under coercion. Which means, the State government will have to play a pivotal role in acquiring land for implementing the project without any hitch.

Official sources told The Hindu that the alignment of the new road network, which has been included in the first phase of the development schedule, will be finalised only in due course.

Creation of a National Expressway Authority of India has been proposed for expediting land acquisition and rehabilitating the families that are likely to be displaced. The central authority will have State-level liaison units. The Union government has specified that the State's views be considered while finalising the routes. The authority should also sensitise the State government on land acquisitions.

Though the Centre has taken such precautions in advance for averting a row over the project, the lingering differences of opinion over finalising the width of the national highway stretches and the objections against land acquisition for developing the 45-metre wide road network are feared to hamper the prospects of the expressway. Unless the government shows the resolve to sort out the existing issues and create a public awareness about the need for developing a new road network, the chances of implementing the project are bleak, sources said.