THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: Decks have been cleared for the development of NH 66 bypass stretch at Kazhakoottam to Paripally at Thiruvananthapuram-Kollam border. The lone hurdle, which was the acquisition of 44 cents of land of Thiruarattukavu Devi temple at Attingal for constructing a bypass as part of the project, has been resolved following talks with the temple authorities. The land is likely to be surrendered to NHAI (National Highways Authority of India) within 15 days, sources said.
The six-lane widening work of the 29-kilometre stretch will begin after a month, if weather permits. The contract agreement between NHAI and the contractor RDS Limited was signed on May 20. According to NHAI, only the compound wall of the temple needs to be demolished for the purpose and it will not touch the temple. Earlier, NHAI had planned to approach the Supreme Court to vacate the stay order secured by the temple.
“Acquiring 44 cents belonging to the temple, which is essential for the construction of the 12-km-long Attingal bypass, was the main hurdle for the implementation of the project. Now, all the hurdles are cleared. The only issue was the temple authorities’ reluctance to hand over the land and they had approached the High Court and secured a stay order. However, we had conciliatory talks with them and finally they agreed to surrender the land for the bypass. We will hand over the whole land to RDS after 15 days and the contractor is expected to start the work by July, if weather permits.
The first work will be cutting down of trees on either side of the road and then we will start demolishing the buildings. Finally, the utility shifting will begin, “ said P Pradeep, project director, NHAI. Some of the building owners have voluntarily started demolishing the buildings at places like Kallambalam, Kaniyapuram and Mangalapuram. The contract for the development of the stretch was awarded to RDS Projects Limited at a cost of Rs 790 crore.
The Kazhakkoottam-Parippally stretch is slated to be widened to 45 m to facilitate the six-lane traffic. There will be service roads on either side and road safety measures will be put in place, as mandated by the Indian Road Congress.
Once the road is widened, the travel time from Kollam to Thiruvananthapuram, which normally takes 90 to 105 minutes during peak hours, will be reduced by 20 to 30 minutes. The Kazhakkoottam-Parippally project has been conceived so that the NH deviates from Mamom Junction to a bypass road. From there, long-distance travellers need not touch Attingal town, a major traffic bottleneck. They will rejoin the main road at Ayamkonam near Kallambalam.