THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: Even as the Union Government has proposed a new highway connecting the Kazhakoottam-Karode bypass to the Vizhinjam port, the four-laning of the Kazhakoottam - Mukkola stretch is still crawling even after awarding the project to an EPC contractor.
Though the Union Minister and state PWD Minister promised to begin the construction works at the earliest, not even a single stone has been laid so far even for demarcating the stretch for widening the road to 45 metres.
It has been four months since the NHAI awarded the construction contract of the Kazhakoottam-Mukkola NH 66 bypass stretch to Hyderabad- based KNR constructions as the lowest bidder in the project to be executed in engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) mode.
Sources said that the lack of co-ordination between the government departments was the key reason for the inordinate delay in the four-laning works. Be it PWD, KSEB, KWA or Revenue, all have miserably failed to take up the speedy development of this future corridor. With the beginning of the work of Vizhinjam project, the stretch is expected to witness a huge increase in traffic.
‘City Express’ had earlier reported, based on the information obtained from NHAI, that the demarcation of the first phase of the works by PWD would begin in May. But sources now say PWD is adopting a lethargic attitude in carrying out the demarcation process. Admitting that the start of the construction works was getting delayed, Venkatakrishnan, Project Director, NHAI, told ‘City Express’ that the NHAI was ready to start the work anytime. “We are ready to begin the work as we have already awarded the contract to KNR Constructions. But pre-construction activities should be carried out by the PWD and other state government departments. Works such as demarcation and removal of pipes lying beneath the ground should be done by the respective departments. As Revenue, PWD, KSEB and KWA are the stakeholders, their support for the project is imperative,” he said.
No Consensus over ‘Trees'
Meanwhile, the differences of opinion between the environmentalists and the government on cutting the trees beside the stretch is getting worse. “We had put forward several suggestions, including the retaining of the trees on the median to be constructed, as the median would be having sufficient width. By cutting down the trees, biodiversity is getting hampered. We hope the issue would be settled soon,” said architect G Shankar, a member of the tree-monitoring committee.