THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: Though the National Highways Authority of India has come up with a revised communication over the categorisation of projects in the wake of political pressure, there is still ambiguity over NH development in the state.
There is a lack of clarity in the revised communication over land acquisition in the state. Also the controversial decision of putting NH development in the state to High Priority II has not been revoked. Citing these issues, state Works Minister G Sudhakaran wrote to Union Minister Nitin Gadkari seeking to address the issues.
The NHAI had earlier come out with a communication putting NH development in Kerala in High Priority II category. Following which the state government had come out against the Centre. Union Minister from Kerala Alphons Kannanthanam also wrote to Nitin Gadkari seeking to revoke the decision. On Thursday, Gadkari had announced that the decision has been revoked.
As per the modified communication, “it is not to be construed that the projects in High-2 list are dropped. The projects in High 2 list may be continued after seeing specific approval of NHAI HQ by providing the status of land acquisition as on May 2, 2019 and traffic.” Citing ambiguity in the modified letter, Sudhakaran said the issue raised by the state has not been properly addressed. Even in the revised letter the categorisation of High Priority I and II exist. Also no decision has been taken on taking forward land acquisition in the state.
In his letter to the Union Minister, Sudhakaran demanded that all stretches of NH 66 in Kerala should be included in the High Priority I category. The minister offered all support to fulfil the four-lane development of NH 66. Also measures should be taken by the NHAI to publish 3D proposals submitted by the Competent Authority Land Acquisition (CALA). The minister also demanded that the NHAI should finalise the long-pending tender process of Thalapady - Chengala, Chengala - Kalikkadavu and Kozhikode bypass without further delay.
“The stipulation that projects in High-2 can be continued after seeking specific approval of NHAI HQ by providing the status of land acquisition as on May 2, could prove to be harmful to Kerala. The state will have to again wait for clearance from the NHAI. Therefore the first notification should be cancelled and Kerala should be included in High Priority I, so as to complete the proceedings in a time-bound manner,” Sudhakaran said in a press release.