Special Correspondent

837 km of NHs to be widened

30 proposals to develop various bypass roads

Sabarimala roads in maintenance scheme

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: Public Works Minister Mons Joseph said in the Assembly on Monday that a comprehensive study on road-development needs of the State would be undertaken by his department.

Replying to the demand for grants for Public Works, the Minister said that an agency of international standing would be entrusted with the study. The study would chart out proposals for planned development of roads.

The Minister announced that a detailed project report for widening 837 km of National Highways 47 and 17 to four lanes was being finalised. Steps would be taken soon for land acquisition. Besides, 30 proposals had been drawn up for developing bypasses for roads other than NHs. This would include a bypass for Main Central Road between Thiruvalla and Ettumanur. In view of Sister Alphonsa being declared a saint by the Roman Catholic Church, a package would be drawn up for the development of the Bharananganam-Kudamalloor-Muttuchira road. Roads to Sabarimala would be included in the proposed heavy maintenance scheme. A sum of Rs.50 crore would be allocated in the first phase.

Mr. Joseph announced that alignment for the proposed hill highway between Palakkad and Kasaragod had been readied. The National Transport Planning and Automation Centre had been asked to prepare a project report for the 1,157-km highway. The proposed coastal highway would be taken up in phases.

Finance Minister T.M. Thomas Isaac said that development of the coastal and hill highways would not face budget constraints.

The Public Works Minister said the Roads and Bridges Development Corporation was preparing a Rs. 200-crore project for completing railway overbridges. A sum of Rs.200 crore would be spent on acquisition of land for Kozhikode road projects. Proposals including flyovers were being drawn up for solving traffic jams in Kochi. Roads totalling a distance of 6,000 km would be taken up under MLA schemes.

Mr. Joseph denied the statement of P.C. George (Kerala Congress-Secular) that he was bound to lose his Minister’s post as his party decided to support the UPA government. “It is untrue,” he stressed. After the Minister’s reply, the House passed the demand for grants (Rs.1,093.18 crore).