KOCHI: The Chief Secretary on Tuesday submitted before the Kerala High Court that the State Government has been making all possible efforts to expedite the land acquisition so that the national highways could be developed with 45-metre width, so as to mitigate traffic congestion.
Chief Secretary E K Bharat Bhushan made the submission in response to a petition filed by the National Highway Vikasana Samrakshana Samithi, seeking a directive to the National Highway Authority of India (NHAI) to widen the NH-17 and NH-47 to a minimum of 45 metres, came up for hearing.
The court had earlier asked the Chief Secretary to file an affidavit, explaining the details of the acquisition of land, the decisions taken for widening the roads, and the time indicated for finalising the process. The State submitted that the NH-47 could be divided into three stretches - Walayar-Edappally, Cherthala-Kazhakkoottam and Kazhakkottam-Tamil Nadu border. With regards to the Walayar-Edappally stretch, land acquisition has been completed. Procedures under the Right-of-Way (RoW) to widen the road to 45 meters have been completed from Edappally to Thrissur, and work is progressing fast in the remaining portion. Regarding the Cherthala-Kazhakkoottam stretch, even though notifications were published twice, it got lapsed due to the non-completion of the Section 3D survey within one year. The notifications lapsed due to differences of opinion among the authorities as to whether the width should be 30 meters or 45 meters. There was also public resistance with regard to lying of survey stones at several places along the stretch.
Land acquisition has been completed along 26.50 km on the Kazhakkoottam-Tamil Nadu stretch, and in the remaining portion, compensation is being paid to the land-owners, the State submitted. The NH-17 is divided into two stretches - Thalappady-Kuttippuram and Kuttippuram-Edappally. The land required on the portion of the stretch that falls in the Malappuram district is 221.9665 hectare. Even though a Section-3(A) notification was published in 2013, it could not be proceeded by laying survey stones as there was opposition from the public whenever there was an attempt to acquire land. A similar situation is prevailing in the Ernakulam and Thrissur districts.
The State also pointed out that there were instances wherein the land-owners cooperated for land acquisition, but the road was developed under the ‘Right of Way (RoW)’ with 30-metre width, which effected construction on the rear side of the properties. Now, the land-owners are in a dilemma as they are facing further land acquisition for the NH with a RoW of 45 metres.“There are a number of temples, mosques and churches on both the sides of the NH-17 and NH-47, and there have been resistance from religious groups whenever properties belonging to temples, mosques or church were attempted to be acquired,” the State said.
The State it was the policy of the government to develop the NH-17 and NH-47 with RoW of 45 metres. “The government had no intention to reduce the RoW,” the Chief Secretary submitted.