THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: The National Highway (NH) development in Attingal town has landed in trouble after Public Works Minister G Sudhakaran ordered his department to carry out the work only after discussing it with him as many works are being done without the knowledge of the state government.The government decided to temporarily stop the work citing that it was kept in the dark about the actual work being carried out on the NH stretch and also about the diversion of vehicles, including heavy vehicles, through narrow roads along the Thiruvananthapuram-Kollam stretch. Sudhakaran said the government was informed only about the works relating to Attingal town development, including widening of the road and construction of drainage, and not on widening the NH.
Unlike other road projects, widening the three-kilometre NH stretch from Moonnumukku to Poovampara to four lanes is a model project as it has been taken up voluntarily by the Attingal Municipality with the help of local traders and residents. The traders and local landowners ceded their land free of cost for the development to ease long-standing traffic congestion on the highway connecting Thiruvananthapuram and Kollam. However, the minister’s latest decision came as a shocker for them.
Now, the road development has been stalled midway and has created more trouble for the motorists and commuters. R S Rasis, a local resident, said there was a plan by the state government to include this particular stretch to widen it to 30 metres like the ongoing development of Karamana-Kaliyikkavila road. “Since the National Highways Authority of India dropped the plan to develop this highway stretch and decided to build a new parallel bypass, all plans to improve the condition of the stretch were dropped. Hence, the municipality came forward to widen the stretch with the help of landowners by acquiring limited land. Though it was taken up earlier, several hurdles came on its way. Recently, the PWD received the green signal,” he said.
Municipal chairman M Pradeep told TNIE that the municipality decided to take up the project to decongest the Thiruvananthapuram-Kollam highway, which has been a long-standing demand of Attingal residents. “The minister intervened after the NH was dug up. We asked the contractor to dig up the stretch to make both sides of the road to the same level. Otherwise, the road has to be elevated, which will create inconvenience to the shops and residents on either side. Now, that work has been stalled and we hope the government will give its green signal soon,” he said.
The road widening is being undertaken at a cost of `30 crore. Sources in the PWD said the government was not informed about digging up the NH as part of the Attingal town development and this created differences with the municipality. “The local bodies cannot dig up an NH stretch without the government approval. In fact, there is a procedure to widen an NH stretch. They can dig up roads coming under the municipality, but this is an NH stretch,” said a senior PWD engineer.