Kerala

Gap Road works hang in balance

The widening works of the Gap Road stretch of the Kochi-Dhanushkodi national highway hang in the balance with uncertainty over safety measures and an agreement on compensation yet to be reached with farmers who had suffered losses in landslips triggered by the blasting of rocks.

As many as 30 farmers had suffered losses after cardamom cultivation in nearly 50 acres was destroyed in landslips on June 17 and August 7.

K.B. Baby, a farmer who lost cardamom in 11 acres, said the farmers would not agree unless a proper compensation was given by the contractor. He said there was an official report that the damage was widespread and proper compensation be given to the farmers.

Inconclusive

A meeting convened by the District Collector was inconclusive as only a meagre compensation was offered by the contractor, he said adding that the Collector, who visited the spot, had assured them that the works would not be allowed unless they were given proper compensation.

Vinod Chandrasekharan, who lost 3.5 acres of cardamom, said the compensation offered by the contractor was ₹2 lakh per acre. “Not only the crop but also the land had been lost and how can one agree to such a package. If the price of beans and the cost of maintaining plants alone are taken into consideration, farmers could have suffered a loss of at least ₹15 lakh a year in terms of cardamom production,” he said adding that as the land itself was lost, they either needed proper compensation or alternative land for cultivation.

Nearly 300 metres of road was washed away in the first landslip.

There were reports that unscientific road widening works and blasting of rocks over a wide area could have triggered the landslips.

It is estimated that nearly 20 landslips had occurred on the Gap Road stretch since the road widening works began in 2018.

A report by the Devikulam Subcollector had cited unscientific roadworks for landslips on the stretch.

Recommended

An expert team which visited the landslip area had recommended that the works should be restarted only after ensuring safety measures, including construction of retaining walls.

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Printable version | Nov 26, 2020 3:51:44 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/kerala/gap-road-works-hang-in-balance/article32933137.ece

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