THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: Putting an end to uncertainties, the NH bypass work, the promising road development project of the National Highway Authority of India (NHAI) is being completed in July, informed NHAI officials. When the first phase of the project began on September 1, 2015, it was delayed due to a number of reasons including the problem triggered from the cutting of trees and high compensation demands from residents.
Even though the NHAI claims that 95 per cent of the works in phase I is completed, Chakai flyover, which is its core project still remains unfinished. The flyover aims at reducing the heavy rush near Chakai-Eenchakal junction by providing traffic-free road connectivity to the International airport. The flyover work disrupted water supply in certain areas thereby inviting the wrath of the public. Unlike the snail pace progress of phase I, the second phase of the project is moving at a fast pace and has completed more than 40 per cent of the work. The key project in the second phase is the construction of a bridge across the Neyyar river and the work is progressing.
Kummanam Rajasekharan (BJP)
From the BJP's point of view, road development is considered to be one of the major aspects to the holistic development of the city. According to them, the Kazhakoottam area was considered to be a desolated place and the party gave life to it by approaching NHAI officials foreseeing its possibilities in the development of the city. "BJP leaders including Kummanam Rajasekharan took an effort to meet Nitin Gadkari, Minister of Road Transport and Highways of India regarding the need to improve the Mukkola-Vizhinjam road and submitted a memorandum. The fund was released after his visit to Kerala and the tender works were begun. We even visited the spot and analysed the possibilities prior to our meeting with Nitin Gadkari. A memorandum was submitted on the development of Kazhakoottam-Karode road, the need for a flyover, the same was submitted on the very day. Surprisingly the proposal was accepted and he handed over the memorandum to the NHAI and instructed them to do a road survey. An estimate of Rs 194 crore was released on the later days and got sanctioned," said S Suresh, BJP district president. They also claimed the funding was 100 per cent provided by BJP and have also put forward new road development projects including the Vizhinjam-railroad and the T'Puram-Thenkasi road which passes through Nedumangadu.
C Divakaran (LDF)
A scientific study and evaluation should be done prior to road construction, said LDF candidate C Divakaran. When road construction comes under several schemes, it is important to do a proper investigation regarding its feasibility. "Roads come under the schemes of National Highway, State Highway, Pradhan Mantri Gram Sadak Yojana scheme and also flood-damaged road repairing. When asked for maintenance or replacing damage, authorities give excuses. When you seek help from the Central Government they recommend getting help from the state overnment. It is a regular pattern followed and people's representatives like me are confused- where to start, whom to ask and how to make a change in the system followed," he said. According to him, no authority is ready to accept direct responsibility which results in execution delay. "I have been directly involved in the NH Bypass road work and I spoke to the authorities seeking for the original reason behind the delay. I found the officials themselves blame each other hence the work remains unfinished. Time-bound execution is the only solution to this issue and is crucial for the development of the city," Divakaran added. He believes the widespread criticism faced by the NH Bypass work was caused by the unscientific approach towards road development.
Shashi Tharoor (UDF)
While focusing on improving infrastructure projects including the NH Bypass and Vizhinjam seaport, UDF candidate Shashi Tharoor said he has been regularly engaged with the project team and the local residents to iron out obstacles amidst the regular operations of the project. "In 2011, an urgent meeting was arranged with C P Joshi, former Union Minister for Road Transport and Highways regarding the need for urgent action on NH47 bypass from Thiruvananthapuram to Kanyakumari. We went to the villages, talked to people regarding the progress, collected information and conducted surveys. In 2013 another meeting with Highway officials and District Collector towards implementation of the widening and construction of NH-47 bypass T'Puram-Karode was conducted. After numerous obstructions, land acquisition approved in 2014. Following my intervention and a discussion with Union Minister Nitin Gadkari, the Centre approved EPC mode for NH bypass widening in October and NHAI began issuing engineering & construction (EPC) tender for the NH-47 bypass for Rs 750 crore," he said. He also mentioned he proposed the 'Green Highway' idea and asked for replanting trees along the NH bypass.