It has been a dream of the people of Malabar for more than two decades now.
But after a gap of nearly 20 years of inactivity, the ambitious coastal highway project from Ponnani in Malappuram to Kozhikode is finally showing signs of life.
The project first began with a detailed study conducted by the National Transportation Planning and Research Centre (NATPAC) in 1993 and has seen various governments and various agencies take an interest in executing it.
But none of these attempts came to fruition and it remained confined to a few dusty files till now.
But Roads and Bridges Development Corporation of Kerala (RBDCK) managing director APM Mohammed Hanish revealed to Express that starting of work on the project was just a Cabinet sanction away.
“The state Cabinet is mulling over the various financial models under which the project should be carried out.
We have already been allotted `56 crore in the budget and we are hoping to start work on the stretch from Aashanpadi to Tanur as soon as we receive the sanction.
We hope to receive it within a month,” he said.
He also elaborated upon the three financial models under consideration.
“The first model involves a Centre- State joint venture.
The second model involves the state government bearing the land acquisition costs with construction costs being paid as annuities.
The third is a Public- Private Partnership (PPP).
The first two models does not necessitate the collection of toll from people and of the two, we believe that the centre-state joint venture is the most feasible,” he said.
The project originally started out as a 72-km highway link between Ponnani and Vengalam but the latest version has shortened the length of the project which will not stretch till Vengalam.
“The highway will not stretch till Vengalam as previously planned and will end on Francis Road.
This will give it a total length of 55km and it can be completed at a cost of `1500 crore.
It will involve four main bridges -- Baypore, Chaliyam, Poorappuzha and Tirurpuzha.
And the fact that the Chamravattom regulator-cum-bridge has already been commissioned makes our job a lot easier,” he said.