THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: Putting an end to uncertainties, the construction of the first phase of the widening of Kazhakoottam-Mukkola stretch of NH bypass is becoming a reality. Union Minister for Shipping, Transport and Highways Nitin Gadkari will lay the foundation stone on Tuesday at Kazhakoottam marking the beginning of construction works.
Chief Minister Oommen Chandy will preside over the function to be attended by Union Minister of State for Shipping and Highways Pon Radhakrishnan and Shashi Tharoor MP.
The first phase of four-laning works of the 26-kilometre stretch will be carried out by Hyderabad-based contractor KNR constructions. The project will be executed in Engineering, Procurement and Construction mode (EPC) mode for the first time in the state. The total cost is estimated at `845.24 crore. The remaining part of the stretch that is from Mukkola to Karode will take place only after the completion of the first phase as the land acquisition is yet to be completed.
The beginning of the works caused inordinate delay of around three months after awarding the works to EPC contractor owing to the delay in demarcation and utility shifting.
However, the NHAI officials said the issue prevailed in the co-ordination of other stakeholders including PWD, KSEB, KWA and Revenue in utility shifting has arrived in a consensus. Other major challenge was the removal of trees beside the highway as NHAI faced stiff opposition from environmentalists.
“Talks are on to replace the trees or planting more trees on the medians with due support from environmentalists. Hope that hurdles would also be cleared soon,” a top NHAI official said.
Two underpasses and three bridges are proposed in the stretch. The underpass will be constructed at Chakka and Mukkola. The bridges are proposed at Akkulam, Thiruvallam and Kottukal.
Meanwhile, the land clearing works were begun at the land acquired from Kovalam junction extending to Mukkola.
The PWD has started to evict encroachments in the stretch and the list of trees to be cleared has been handed over to the Forest Department.