The decision on the long-awaited Thiruvananthapuram Outer Ring Road (ORR) project in Kerala is expected to be made next week.
Union Minister of Road Transport and Highways, Nitin Gadkari, is planning to discuss the issue with Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan during his visit to Thiruvananthapuram.
According to the tentative schedule, the Union minister is set to visit the state on 12 October for the inauguration of several road and bridge projects.
These include Mukkola-Karode NH 66 in Thiruvananthapuram district, Neeleshwaram ROB in Kasaragod, the new bridge at Cheruthoni in Idukki, and the new Munnar-Bodimettu Road on the Kochi-Dhanushkodi highway. The event will take place in the capital.
As per The New Indian Express report, an unofficial meeting is also planned between the Chief Minister and the Union minister to discuss the fund-sharing issue regarding National Highway projects, particularly the ORR.
The National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) had halted all activities related to the ORR project due to disagreements over fund-sharing between the state and Centre.
In an effort to address the state's financial crisis, the Chief Minister wrote a letter to Gadkari requesting exemption from funding for the ORR project.
Additionally, the state sought permission from the Centre to widen the road to a 60-m-wide highway instead of the initially planned 45-m-wide road. However, there has been no response from the Centre thus far, and the NHAI proceeded with land acquisition for the 45-m-wide highway with service roads.
Initially, the state government agreed to contribute 50 per cent of the funds for land acquisition, with the Centre expected to cover the remaining half. However, the state later requested the Centre to reduce its share to 25 per cent.
Ring Road To Transform Capital
It is a greenfield access-controlled project on the outer area of Thiruvananthapuram city on the eastern side only as the Arabian Sea is located on the western side of this coastal city.
The ORR project was originally proposed as a 70-m-wide, six-lane highway with 25-m service roads. However, it was later revised to a 45-m-wide road, including service roads, resulting in a maximum width of 30 m for the main carriageway and 15m for the service roads.
This project is further bifurcated into northern ring (29 Km) and southern ring (47.9 Km) alignments.
While the northern ring between Navaikulam and Thekadda, the southern ring which is further divided into two sections is between Mangalapuram and Vizhinjam.
Section-1 of the southern ring is 35.3 km long and is between Thekadda to Vizhinjam Bypass. Another section is 12.6 km long between Thekadda to Mangalapuram.
The four-lane highway will be enhanced to six lane highway as and when the traffic count qualifies for six lane requirements.
This ORR is significant as it connects two major economic growth hubs —Technopark and Technocity complex on the northern side and Vizhinjam Port complex on the Southern side of Thiruvananthapuram.
The NHAI had previously expressed optimism that construction of the ORR could commence by January 2024.
Currently, 40 per cent of the preliminary work on land acquisition, as part of the 3D notification, has been completed in 11 villages.
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