THRISSUR: The construction work of Kerala’s first and only twin-tube tunnel at Kuthiran on NH 544, which has been in a limbo, has failed to resume after the flood havoc due to the financial crisis plaguing the main contract company. The over six month-long standstill continues despite intervention from several quarters.
According to the official spokesperson of Pragathi Engineering and Rail Projects Pvt Ltd, which took the sub-contract for tunnel, “The main contract company, which is KMC Constructions Ltd, has to give an amount of `40 crore towards the construction of the tunnel. We cannot continue the construction works without the due amount”.
“All the resources are set here and if at least a small percentage of the due payment is provided, the work will resume,” the spokesperson said.Though the KMC had expected financial help from a consortium of banks, it never materialised.
Now, the contract company is planning to avail itself of personal financial loan to hand it over to Pragathi. Several rounds of discussions were held in the presence of National Highways Authority of India(NHAI) officers, but they did not yield results.
As per the agreement, the construction work was scheduled for completion in 2018, but it was hit by locals’ protest against blasting of rocks.
“The work was halted for around five months due to the protest. After settling the agitation by giving out compensation, the drilling works were done. Then the monsoon set in, hampering the work.” During the monsoon, the surface soil started to cave in from top of the tunnel leading to safety concerns. Based on the NHAI recommendation, an expert team from IIT- Madras visited the tunnel and inspected its safety aspects.
“The report has been forwarded to NHAI authorities,” said P K Suresh, NHAI Project Director. He said the NHAI can do precious little since the financial crisis is the contract company’s concern.Of the twin-tubes, work on the left tunnel is nearly over while 80 per cent of the right tube is completed. “Once we get the payment, it will take another one month to make the tunnels ready,” said the company spokesperson.
NH widening also lags
Along with the delay in tunnel works, the widening of the Mannuthy- Wadakkanchery stretch of NH 544 is lagging behind due to the same financial crisis. Local people have demanded blacklisting the main contract company which failed to complete the works even after a decade.