THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: Even as the second phase development of Karamana-Kaliyikkavila Road, converting it into a four-lane stretch was inaugurated with much fanfare, the beginning of the works would be delayed. The reason: The shifting of the utilities including electric poles, cables, water pipelines and BSNL cables, will remain a major hurdle as the decision on this has not reached anywhere.
Sources in the PWD said the Kerala Road Fund Board (KRFB), which is the executing agency, has not even handed over the funds to the utility agencies for the shifting work. In the fallout, the contractor, Uralungal Labour Contract Co-operative Society Ltd (ULCCS), can begin the levelling of the stretch from Pravachambalam only after shifting the utilities.
"The funds for utility shifting has to be paid through KIIFB by KRFB. But this has not happened so far and it will take more months for completing the initial process of fund distribution and floating a tender for removing the utilities. So the inauguration was just an eyewash and election stunt by the government," said Rajagopal, a member of the Karamana-Kaliyikkavila action council.
PWD sources said a meeting would be called soon to discuss the utility shifting. The action council members also alleged the government had a year's time for shifting the utilities as the land acquisition was completed much earlier. But the government remained silent.
"Normally, utilities are shifted much before the beginning of construction. It was a sheer apathy shown by the government that put the project in limbo and now we need to wait for some more months," a council member said.
The much-delayed second phase development of the Karamana-Kaliyikkavila highway project got a lease of life only recently with the government approving the tender price of the selected contractor. The tender process for the 5.6-km stretch between Pravachambalam and Kodinada near Balaramapuram was delayed for several months. The cost for the second phase is estimated at R111.5 crore. The 5.6-km stretch between Pravachambalam and Kodinada at Balaramapuram is the major part of the second phase of the Karamana-Kaliyikkavila stretch. Earlier, a sum of R266.67 crore was handed over to the Revenue Department for land acquisition on the Pravachambalam-Balaramapuram stretch. The second phase development was inaugurated by Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan on Thursday.