Gadkari inaugurates, lays foundation stone for 8 highway projects in Kerala
New Delhi, October 14, 2020
Union Minister for Road Transport & Highways Nitin Gadkari inaugurated and laid the foundation stone for eight National Highway (NH) projects in Kerala on Tuesday.
The event was attended by StateGovernor Arif Mohammed Khan, Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan and Union Ministers of State Gen (Retd) V K Singh and V Muraleedharan.
Ministers from the State, Members of Parliament, MLAs and senior officers from the Centre and the State also participated.
Speaking on the occasion, Gadkari said that, in line with the Prime Minister’s vision for a New India, development of world-class transport infrastructure had been prioritized through initiatives such as the Bharatmala Pariyojana, India’s largest-ever infrastructure development programme.
The Bharatmala Pariyojna was conceptualized through a scientific study of freight traffic movement between key origin-destination pairs to enable efficient freight and passenger movement. The Minister said 35,000 km of National Highways were being developed as a part of the Bharatmala Pariyojana.
Out of this, 1,234 km of National Highways were being developed in Kerala. An additional 119 KM of Port Connectivity Roads were also planned to be upgraded under Bharatmala/Sagarmala Scheme.
Several flagship corridors such as Delhi Mumbai Expressway, Delhi Amritsar Katra Expressway, Chennai – Bengaluru Expressway, etc. are also being developed as a part of Bharatmala Pariyojana, he said.
Gadkari said the Mumbai–Kanyakumari Economic Corridor with a length of 1,760 km was one such corridor being developed. The corridor will improve connectivity to the entire western coast of the country from Mumbai till Kanyakumari and enable the economic prosperity of the region.
As a part of the Mumbai–Kanyakumari Economic Corridor, 23 projects with a length of 650 km were being developed in the state of Kerala with an investment of Rs 50,000 crore. The corridor traversing the entire length of Kerala from North to South is expected to be the lifeline of Kerala. The corridor would improve connectivity to major cities/towns such as Kasargod, Thalassery, Kannur, Kozhikode, Ernakulam, Kochi, Alappuzha, Kollam and Thiruvananthapuram.
The Minister said works have been sanctioned and construction was being initiated in another seven projects of length 177 km at an investment of Rs 11,571 crore. It includes the construction of a high-level bridge at Cheruthoni River, which was damaged/approaches completely washed off due to natural calamities during southwest monsoon season in 2018. The government was committed to ensuring expedited completion of these projects, he said.
At present, Kerala has National Highways of 1782 km length. As much as 488 km of NH length has been constructed during 2014-20, which depicts an increase of 569% over the 2009-14 period. The expenditure on the construction of NH from 2014-2020 was Rs 3,820 crore, while another Rs 671 crore was spent on maintenance of NH in the State.
The allocation under flood repair/ordinary repair was Rs 96.50 crore. Works costing Rs 19,800 crore were targeted for completion by 2024, while 30 projects of an aggregate length of 549 km for an amount of Rs. 5327 crore were under implementation.
The Minister asked the Chief Minister to consider the Private-Public Partnership (PPP) model for road development which will bring more capital in building infrastructure.
Underlining the very high land acquisition cost for roads in Kerala, Gadkari called making aggregates and sand royalty-free and for exempting other road materials like iron/steel, cement from State GST that will be very helpful in reducing the cost of road construction. He invited Vijayan to Delhi for a detailed discussion on these issues. He assured all the support from the Union Road & Highways Ministry.
Gadkari also called upon the State to identify the black spots on Highways and offered help in rectifying such issues.
Kerala Governor Arif Mohammed Khan complimented the central government for fulfilling the aspirations of the people of the State.
NH 66 is the lifeline of Kerala connecting to Tamil Nadu in the South and Karnataka in the North which is a part of the Kanyakumari-Mumbai Corridors, one of the important Economic Corridors in the country.
"As a pivotal part of Mumbai-Kanyakumari Corridor, it will boost the economic prosperity of the State. Partial access-controlled 4/6 lane will ensure decongestion of traffic, inter-state connectivity will be faster and hassle-free with business centres like Kozhikode and Kochi to get especially benefitted. It will lead to a transformational impact on the agriculture and fisheries sector, enhanced accessibility to open a vista of opportunities for Kerala spices items," an official press release said.
The other benefits include better synergy between road-port transportation resulting in ‘Port-led development’, it being a major stride towards strengthening the tourism sector of the state and generation of a large number of employment and self-employment opportunities.
The new projects will provide better connectivity to various tourist places, historical places and religious places. The widening of NH 66 is the long-cherished dream of all Keralites. It will result in an infrastructure development boom, the release said.
The new projects will also employ the unskilled, semi-skilled and skilled manpower of the region. These will improve safe traffic flow by reducing collisions on the undivided highways and reduce travel time, as well as maintenance cost of the vehicles, and saving of fuel. Implementation of the project would result in enhanced socio-economic conditions of the locality, the release said.
The projects will improve the transport of agricultural goods & access to greater markets, thereby reducing the cost of goods and services, it added.