THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: The development of the elevated highway at Kazhakoottam has come to a standstill as the local police and the National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) have locked horns over the frequent police action against the workers and contractor of the project for causing traffic congestion in the area. NHAI officers alleged the police were confiscating vehicles used for the construction, taking workers into custody and slapping petty cases on them.
“The work was progressing at a fast pace. However, the police’s attitude towards the project is pathetic,” said NHAI project director P Pradeep.He said the issue started when NHAI served a notice on Kazhakoottam police station for demolishing the station’s compound wall.
“We need to demolish the buildings and walls on the roadside for developing roads or highways. However, the police are opposing it. Now, they are wreaking vengeance against NHAI and the contractor by taking the workers into custody and seizing vehicles. It is unjustifiable. Work at the Kazhakoottam side is currently stopped,” Pradeep said.
However, Kazhakoottam ACP Shainu Thomas told TNIE that the work was not disrupted and the issue has been resolved. “It is true that the police confiscated vehicles and booked the drivers and the contractor. This was done as Kazhakoottam junction has been facing acute traffic congestion in the past one month due to the delay in constructing service roads. Though NHAI had earlier promised to complete the roads, it has not done it. Motorists are bearing the brunt and travelling through the stretch is a nightmare. We have been tirelessly working to ease the congestion, but the unscientific approach by workers worsened the situation,” Shainu said.
“We have held discussions with NHAI and resolved the issue. A major part of the wall of the station was razed earlier. We are not against demolishing it. However, NHAI did not reconstruct the wall as they had promised,” he said. The elevated highway under the Bharatmala Pariyojana Scheme is a key infrastructure project and will be completed at an estimated `195 crore. The officials in charge said, once completed, it will be the longest highway in the state.
It will stretch across 2.72 km, from CSI Mission Hospital to Technopark phase III. A total of 79 pillars, each 25-30 m apart, are being erected. Each lane of the four-lane road will be 9.5m wide. Once built, the highway will ease traffic congestion in Technopark and make the commute smooth for passengers arriving from Kollam.
As per NHAI authorities, the project can be commissioned by October. The contractor of the project is Rameshwar Dayal Sons and Cheriyan Varkey Constructions. The project had hit a roadblock in 2017 owing to the delay in receiving the Letter of Acceptance (LOA). Land acquisition was also a major hurdle as many residents and landlords opposed it initially. Once the project is completed, around 50,000 Technopark employees will be able to travel to work without traffic hassles.