|The government is considering splitting the four-laning and six-laning of National Highway (NH) corridors in the State further into small packages to take advantage of the Centre’s decision to allow the Union Ministry of Road Transport and Highways (MoRTH) to approve projects of up to ₹2,000 crore.|
Splitting the seven existing packages - totalling 600.12 km - further into small parcels below ₹2,000 crore each will avoid further delay in seeking clearance from the Union Cabinet.
The corridor to benefit first from the Centre’s decision will be the 28.4-km Kozhikode NH Bypass. The Vengalam-Ramanattukara corridor, estimated to cost ₹1,288.56 crore, can now be approved by the MoRTH. Earlier, projects that cost above ₹1,000 crore needed the clearance of the Union Cabinet.
The decision has come as a blessing to the State, which is expecting ₹26,000 crore from the MoRTH in the next two years for the much-delayed NH-widening works. “The decision will immensely benefit the State as the MoRTH itself can clear NH projects of up to ₹2,000 crore,” a top official in the Public Works Department told The Hindu.
Splitting the packages further is needed for the speedy clearance of the NH four- and six-laning projects, for which land acquisition is in the final stage across the State. The 170.5 km from Thuravoor/Cherthala to Kazhakuttam in the State capital is one corridor that is to benefit from the Centre’s decision, as its estimated cost is ₹4,605.69 crore.
Of the National Highways passing through the State, 600.12 km from Thalapady on the Kerala-Karnataka border to Edappally and Cherthala to Kazhakuttam in Thiruvananthapuram remains to be developed into four and six lanes. These include the Kozhikode bypass and the 2.34-km flyover from NH 66 near Kazhakuttam to Technopark at a cost of ₹248 crore.
A total of 175.5 hectares of land has to be acquired for the four/six-laning of the Thalapady-Chengala stretch; 203.88 hectares for Chengala-Kalikadavu; 285 hectares for Kalikadavu-Taliparamba; 185 hectares for Azhiyur-Vengalam; 244 hectares for Ramanattukara-Kuttippuram; 562 hectares for Kuttippuram-Edapally-Thuravoor; and 776 hectares for the Thurvaoor/Cherthala- Kazhakuttam corridor.
The 13.14-km Kollam NH bypass will be completed by August 2018 and the 6.80-km Alappuzha NH Bypass, by May 2018, the official said. At present, the State can boast of a four-lane NH corridor only on the 32-km stretch from Chalakudy in Thrissur to Edappally in Ernakulam.