Without service road, we are going to become prisoners of National Highway, fear Kasaragod residents

NHAI's plan does not have service road between Cherkala and Chattanchal, a thickly populated stretch with many crossroads; Residents came to know of it when the work started

Published: 22nd February 2022 08:14 AM  |   Last Updated: 22nd February 2022 08:14 AM   |  A+A-

Thekkil-Ferry Road (on the right) will be 7m below the new National Highway and cannot be accessed without a service road, say residents.

Thekkil-Ferry Road (on the right) will be 7m below the new National Highway and cannot be accessed without a service road, say residents.

Express News Service

KASARGOD: Residents living between Cherkala and Chattanchal -- a 5.5km stretch with eight sharp twists and turns -- fear they would be "isolated" and "imprisoned" in their localities as the National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) is widening NH66 with no provision for service roads.

The residents came to know that the winding highway passing through the hills and over a river did not have service roads only last weekend and they are worried. "The work has started. How could the government approve such a proposal? How will we get home?" said Hameed Kannampally, a resident of Thekkil-Ferry Road.

There are around 500 houses along the road, which is maintained by the District Panchayat.

The densely populated Thekkil-Ferry road also has an Anganwadi, a government-run upper primary school, a lower primary school, a post office, eight mosques, three temples, a ration shop, panchayat's recreational centre for elderly persons, a health sub-centre, and a women's mini industrial estate.

The road also has small residential areas such as Thayalpally, Delambady, Banthad, Moodambail, and Koliyadukkam.

At present, the Ferry Road is 3m below the highway. "The new highway is being constructed 4m above the present level. So our road will be 7m down. Without a service road we will not be able to access our schools or ration shops or our house," said Majeed T T, president of the Parents Teachers Association (PTA) of GUP School.

Opposite the Ferry Road is the Ukkanampady-Thaira temple road, which is home to another 500 families. "They are in the same boat without a service road," said Hameed Kannampally, who is also president of YMA Library in Thekkil. "Without the service road, people will not be able to access the newly built Tata hospital either," he said.

The new highway would be 3.5m above the present level. "We are becoming prisoners of this highway," he said.

Shamsuddin Thekkil, the Banthad ward member of Chemnad gram panchayat, said he was not able to explain the "new proposal" of the NHAI to his people. "In 2020, the NH officials gave us a tour in the area to explain the proposal of the highway. They said there will be a service road and they will not allow a village to be isolated," Shamsuddin said.

But now, they are saying there is no proposal for a service road, he said.

The road is being built by Hyderabad-based Megha Engineering and Construction Pvt Limited.
L N Malviya Infra Project, the independent engineer hired by NHAI and Megha to ensure the quality of work, said there were too many crossroads and interjections between Cherkala and Chattanchal. "We recommend that NHAI should build service roads," said Mallikarjuna H R, the team leader of L N Malviya Infra Project.

But for that, the NHAI will have to change the proposal and it will incur an additional cost, he said. "There should be a service road on at least one side," he said.

When contacted, the NHAI project director in Kozhikode Nirmal Zade said changing the proposal was a lengthy process. "It will take time... but if it (service roads) is required, we will consider it. There will be no problem," he said.

Residents said the requirement is evident. "NHAI should not have missed the people's requirements in the first place," said Abdul Khader, general secretary of Lions Club Chandragiri.


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