Today's Paper

State shelved pact for wider national highways

N.J. Nair

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: The State government is understood to have retracted its decision to develop national highways (NHs) passing through Kerala at a width of 45 metres just before signing a comprehensive pact with the Centre, official sources told The Hindu on Friday.

After signing an agreement to develop the Thrissur-Angamaly stretch, as per the norms laid by the Centre, and acquiring land, the State had proposed to sign separate agreements for different stretches.

The Centre then suggested that instead of going in for piece-meal agreements, a comprehensive pact covering the whole project be signed so that the work could be started without any hitch.

The State government agreed to the proposition and framed an agreement with 22 clauses.

As per the agreement, the State government needs only to act as a facilitator for executing the project.

After according clearance at the highest level, all arrangements have been made for signing the agreement. But now, it is decided to shelve the agreement and mount pressure on the Centre to scale down the width of the NHs to 30 metres.

The decision has been made without considering the fact that tenders have already been floated for initiating the work on the Thrissur-Angamaly stretch and except for a small extent at Karukutty, land acquisition has been completed. Other than marring the development prospects of the State, the decision may cost the exchequer dear..

Since the Centre has reiterated that it will not compromise on the standards set for developing the NHs, the State is likely to lose Rs.10,000-crore Central assistance promised for compensating 47,000 persons who have to be evicted.

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