Kerala is getting a third National Highway that will connect the Thiruvananthapuram-state capital to the central districts.
The Union Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change has given its approval for the alignment of the proposed six-lane greenfield highway. This move brings the development of the highway closer to reality, and it will run parallel to Main Central Road (MC Road).
MC Road is the arterial State Highway starting from Kesavadasapuram in Trivandrum City and ends at Angamaly a suburb of Kochi city in Ernakulam District. It is also known as State Highway 1.
The Bharatmala Pariyojana scheme includes a new highway that will be situated on the eastern side of the existing MC Road. This highway aims to improve connectivity between Thiruvananthapuram and Angamaly, passing through Kottarakkara and parts of Kottayam district.
The proposed 257-km-long highway will traverse six districts, starting at Pulimath near Kilimanoor in Chirayinkeezhu taluk, Thiruvananthapuram, and ending at Angamaly in Ernakulam district.
The road passes through Kottarakkara, Punalur, and Pathanapuram taluks in Kollam district; Konni and Ranni taluks in Pathanamthitta district; Kanjirappally and Meenachil taluks in Kottayam district; and Thodupuzha taluk in Idukki district.
The National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) has appointed a dedicated project director, who will be based in Kottayam, following the approval of the project's alignment by the Centre.
The NHAI's next step is to conduct public hearings on a district basis in the coming months to obtain environmental clearance for the project.
In Ernakulam, the acquisition of land will also take place in Kunnathunad, Muvattupuzha, and Kothamangalam taluks. The greenfield highway will also connect to the proposed Outer Ring Road in Thiruvananthapuram at Pulimath.
An NHAI official states that the project will proceed only after gaining the confidence of the people.
The NHAI estimates that it will take an additional six months to commence construction as the completion of public hearings and land acquisition processes is necessary.
"Despite facing numerous challenges in determining the alignment, we have obtained approval from the ministry. We have appointed a dedicated project director for the project. The public hearings will be conducted soon to ensure a smooth land acquisition process. These hearings will be held in each district through which the highway passes. We will proceed only after gaining the confidence of the people. Additionally, an environmental clearance is required. If everything goes well, we anticipate the construction to begin early next year," reveals a top NHAI official to The New Indian Express.
The alignment of the highway was initially in Aruvikkara in Nedumangad taluk, but it was later changed. The highway will have a width of 45 metre and will include a toll collection centre.
Bhopal-based Highway Engineering Consultants conducted an aerial survey to ensure that the proposed highway does not pass through populated areas. They will now commence the regular survey procedures after issuing a 3A notification. Additionally, a zero forest survey was conducted to avoid impacting forested areas.
The Centre will bear 70 per cent of the total cost, while the state government will contribute 25 per cent.
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