THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: The commissioning of the longest four-lane elevated highway in the state at Kazhakoottam is likely to be delayed as the state government asked the National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) to construct the three proposed underpasses before opening the road to the public. The construction of the 2.72km elevated highway is nearing completion and its commissioning was planned in August.
A NHAI official said a meeting is scheduled on Tuesday between the finance secretary and the NHAI project director to discuss this proposal. P Pradeep, NHAI project director, told TNIE that the approach roads at both sides-- Kazhakoottam and Technopark phase-III side-- are nearing completion and the road can be opened to the public within two months.
However, he said that the government wanted to complete the work of proposed underpasses before the commissioning. “The works are nearing completion. But we cannot complete the work of underpasses in three months. So if the highway is commissioned after the construction of underpasses, it will take a few more months. A meeting is scheduled this week to take a final decision,” he said.
Three low vehicle underpasses(LVUD) are scheduled to come up at Attinkuzhy, Technopark phase-III and Mukkolakkal to ensure risk-free crossing of the freeway. The state government has to foot the expenses of the highway. A source said that there has been some delay in releasing the fund to the NHAI and this led to an uncertainty on the underpasses. The elevated highway is being built under the Bharatmala Pariyojana Scheme.
Tahsildar issues stop memo
Meanwhile, the Neyyattinkara tahsildar issued stop memo to the rectification work of the damaged embankment at Punnakulam- Thengavila, part of Mukkola-Karode NH 66 stretch, as the local people agitated over replacing the embankment with a flyover. The local residents said the embankment is constructed using big concrete blocks. “If heavy rain comes, then there are high chances of water leak through the blocks which may collapse causing danger to people travelling through service roads. So we urge the NHAI to construct a flyover so that people could also pass through under it and chances of danger is also less,” said Johnson, a local resident.
However, NHAI did not take a decision so far and the authority will submit a report soon to the state government seeking permission to complete the works as soon as possible. The construction of Mukkola near Vizhinjam to Karode at Kerala-Tamil Nadu border is also nearing completion and the only works pending are at Punnakulam and at Thirupuram area.
Recently, the issue between NHAI and Geology department over taking soil from a mining quarry at Perumkadavila have been resolved. Currently, the works are going on smoothly and if the rain stays away, the works can be completed as soon as possible, a NHAI official said.
The 16.3-km road is being built as part of the second phase development of NH-66. The original deadline for completion of the concrete road was May 31 last year. In fact, the deadline was changed several times due to pandemic and unavailability of red earth. Once the highway is opened, commuters from north Kerala can save time without entering Thiruvananthapuram city for going to Tamil Nadu via Kanyakumari.