PALAKKAD: The Walayar-Mannuthy (Thrissur) National Highway which forms the gateway to Kerala now finds itself in a stalled condition due to environmental hassles and doubts on the financial preparedness of the contractor executing the Vadakkencherry-Mannuthy stretch.
The Palakkad-Thrissur stretch of the National Highway was being executed in two stretches - the four laning of the 54-km Walayar-Vadakkencherry (45 metre) stretch done by KNR Walayar Tollways Private Limited of KNR Constructions group, and the six laning of the 29-km Vadakkencherry-Mannuthy (60 metre) stretch which was being executed by Thrissur Expressway Limited. The Green tribunal’s order led to the closure of the quarry operated by KNR Constructions in Mangalam dam. The consequent difficulty to source large quantities of the raw materials needed has stalled the work on the National Highway. As per the agreement, the work on the stretch was to be completed by November 2015.
“We have not received any direction on the stay ordered by the Kerala High Court on the Mining and Geology department’s decision to close down quarries that did not have licenses. We have also not received the fine print of the cabinet decision to allow the quarries to operate subject to the permission of the court. The unavailability of metal due to the closure of quarries and the monsoon have hit our work,” said K N Reddy, director of the KNR Walayar Tollways Private Limited.
The main bridges at Yakkara, Thripallur in Alathur, Naragampally, Mangalam bridge and Walayar has been almost completed. With regard to the underpass, the ones at Anchumoorthymangalam, Kindimukku, Kuzhalmannam, Erimayur, Kuzhalmannam, Kootupatha, Mannapullikavu, Koyamarakad and Walayar have been completed. There were 22 culverts from Vadakkencherry to Walayar, said the former project manager P Ramanathan who retired last month. Only two spans are pending with regard to the Chandranagar flyover.
There was also a need for the laying of service roads in Alathur, Walayar, Vadakkencherry and Pudussery. With regard to the six laning of the Vadakkencherry-Mannuthy stretch, the delays in land acquisition coupled with arbitration proceedings, legal wrangles and the failure of the contractor to source funds from financial institutions have brought the work to a halt.
The agreement for the execution of the Vadakkencherry-Mannuthy stretch was executed in August 2009 and the work started on October 2010. “We have sorted out the sourcing of credit from banks and the work will start soon. Around `100 crore has already been spent on the stretch for filling and demolition of buildings as part of the six-lane widening. The banks had refused to fund the project as there was no progress as per the timeline fixed for the utilization of credit,” said the manager of Thrissur Expressway Sreekumar.
The project was to cost `783 crore and the work was to be completed in 30 months. There were two flyovers at Mannuthy and Vadakkencherry and seven vehicular underpasses apart from culverts.
There was also a one-km tunnel at Kuthiraan and two major bridges on the Palakkad side, one leading to the Left carriageway and the other to the Right carriageway of the highway, added Sreekumar.