Reducing national highway width: State hopeful of positive response

Reducing national highway width: State hopeful of positive response

After much deliberations, the Kerala Government is pinning its hopes on the Union Ministry of Road Transport and Highways to agree to reduce the width of National Highways (NH) being developed in the state from 45 metres to 30 metres.

Public Works Minister V K Ebrahim Kunju who held a meeting with Union Minister for Road Transport and Highways Oscar Fernandes in New Delhi the other day, termed the meeting as ‘positive’ but said that proposal is yet to get an in-principle approval.

“We are hopeful that the ministry will take a positive stand on reducing the width from 45 metres to 30 metres. During the discussions the Union Minister was receptive to the peculiar situation prevailing in the state with regard to the highway development. We are yet to get an in-principle approval from the Ministry. But we will get to know about the decision in another ten days,’’ V K Ebrahim Kunju told ‘Express’.

But there are apprehensions raised by the National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) that rules cannot be relaxed for Kerala alone as it will set a wrong precedent and will compromise road safety.

“All other states are constructing 60-metre highways on BOT basis. Kerala was allowed to go ahead with the 45-metre road considering the peculiar situation in the state. If the width is further allowed to be reduced to 30 metre as per the state’s request, it will affect road safety standards. Also, the traffic density is increasing steadily and restricting the NH width is not advisable as per scientific studies,’’ said an NHAI official. However, Ebrahim Kunju said that if needed another round of talks would be held with officials in New Delhi to push for the state’s demand.

“As per the state’s demand the Ministry for Road Transport and Highways have already given approval for excluding five segments of NH from NHDP. We have requested for Central assistance to develop these roads,’’ he added. The state has demanded that the NH two-lane roads of Kollam-Aryankavu, Kollam-Kumily, Kundanoor-Bodimettu, Kozhikode-Muthanga and Kozhikode-Palakkad stretches should be excluded from the NHDP. Many groups in the state have been demanding that the National Highways in Kerala should be developed at a width of 30 metres.

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The New Indian Express