A Detailed Project Report (DPR) of the much-ambitious Hill Highway is being prepared by the National Transportation Planning and Research Centre (NATPAC), eight years after the formal inauguration of its work.
The alignment for the Hill Highway extending from Kasargod to Thiruvananthapuram, a road link through the hilly regions of the state and covering nearly 1,200 kms, worked out by NATPAC was finalised in 2009.
“The DPR is for the first 220 kms of the Highway coming covering Kasargod and Kannur. We expect it to be ready within three months,” B G Sreedevi, director, NATPAC, told ‘Express’.
In Kasaragod district, the highway, declared as State Highway-59, will begin at Nandarappadavu and end at Cherupuzha (110 km). Starting from Cherupuzha, the 109-km corridor in Kannur district will end at Ambayathode-Boy’s Town.
“The hill highway passes through all districts except Alappuzha and 45 Assembly constituencies in the state. We expect the highway to be completed as early as possible,” said Minister for Public Works V K Ebrahim Kunju.
According to NATPAC authorities, existing PWD roads and panchayat roads coming under the project will be developed into two lane with State Highway standard and some parts of the National Highway also will be part of it. In view of the high development costs involved, it has been suggested that the implementation can be taken up in stages and works district-wise for speedy execution of the project. They hint at six stages, each covering nearly 200 kms in an year to complete a distance of nearly 1,200 kms.
Oommen Chandy, in his earlier term as the Chief Minister, had kicked off the work of the first phase extending from Kasaragod to Palakkad at Payyavur in Kannur on January 17, 2005.
The idea of the Hill Highway is older than half a century. If the the Finance Commission gave its nod in 1954, the District Development Council, which met at Kannur, gave its approval in 1966. Though the project gained a momentum during the Seventh Plan, it was caught in red tape and an official announcement abandoning the project came in 1987.
However, the government, led by A K Antony, took the initiative and oozed life into the project as NATPAC was asked to file a report on the same. The alignment was approved on July 6, 2009 and declared as State High way-59.
It is expected that apart from easing the traffic from National Highway and MC roads, the Highway will help the farmers to get better price for their produce while saving time as the highway will offer better connectivity to the feeder roads.