Thiruvananthapuram

Three-month breather for KSTP-Phase II

The World Bank has provided three months to the State to expedite the works of the Kerala State Transport Project (KSTP) Phase II — being funded by it — since the upgrade of 363 km of State Highways as world-class roads has missed milestones and completion target.

The World Bank has, till date, provided only Rs.50 million of the Rs.210 million soft loan agreed by it for the phase-II works and the withdrawal of the bank will put severe strain on the exchequer as it will have to look for the funds elsewhere.

The three-month breather comes in the wake of the review of the progress of the works that were kicked off in June 2013 by a 11-member team of the World Bank — led by task team leader Bernard Aritua — currently in the State.

Of the eight corridors taken up, the 41-km Perumpilavu-Pattambi-Perinthalmanna (Nilambur Road) had already been dropped as the State was unable to complete land acquisition. Around 95 per cent of the land needed in phase-I was acquired in 2002 with World Bank aid. Only 3.466 hectares was pending. “We will confine the upgrade to filling of potholes and installing of road signage on the stretch,” Mr. Aritua said.

Only 50 per cent of the works had been completed in the Kasaragod-Kanhangad (27.78 km) Pilathara-Pappinissery (20.90 km) corridors awarded to the same contractor. The 54-km Thalassery-Valavupara stretch had been split into two packages after the earlier contract was terminated. The work has just commenced, according to sources.

Although 50 per cent of the works on the Chengannur-Ettumanur (47 km) corridor had been completed, the World Bank is not happy with the “quality of works.” Only 42 per cent of the works had been completed as against the target of 73 per cent in the Ettumanur-Muvattupuzha (40.9 km) stretch.

The corridor ahead of target is the 50.09-km Ponkunnam-Thodupuzha, where 96 per cent of the works has been completed. But, cost overruns and corruption charges over rock-cutting have already hit the headlines.

The World Bank is doubtful whether the 82.13-km Punalur-Ponkunnam road can be developed through Private Public Partnership (PPP) on Design, Build, Finance, Operate, Maintain, and Transfer (DBFOMT) mode under the hybrid annuity basis.

If private parties do not come forward, sources said the eighth corridor would also get scrapped.

Mr. Aritua told The Hindu that the World Bank team would review the project in February next.

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Printable version | Apr 19, 2021 2:26:51 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/Thiruvananthapuram/Three-month-breather-for-KSTP-Phase-II/article16643497.ece

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