Uncertainty plagues Kundannoor-Angamaly bypass project

DPR not ready yet; initial deadline to begin land acquisition was Dec. 2018

Even two years after an alignment was finalised, little work has been done to realise the 46-km-long Kundannoor-Angamaly bypass, despite vehicles jostling for space on the Aroor-Edapally NH Bypass and the Edapally-Angamaly NH 66 corridor.

NHAI sources said that a Detailed Project Report (DPR) was not yet ready for the access-controlled greenfield NH bypass project. The agency had in 2019 insisted that the State government must bear half the cost to acquire around 300 hectares of land needed for the corridor, citing that the cost of land acquisition in Kerala was almost four times that in other States. It contended that this had resulted in the compensation for land exceeding the construction cost of NHs in Kerala.

The initial deadline to begin the land acquisition process for the project was December 2018. An alignment that began 2 km north of Angamaly on NH 66 and ended 1.5 km south of Kundannoor on NH 66 Bypass, passing through Perumbavoor and Thripunithura, had been shortlisted in February 2018. This was finalised following a presentation of three probable alignments that were made before the then District Collector and five MLAs. The State government had given in-principle approval for the alignment.

Benny Behanan and Hibi Eden, then MLAs, had met Nithin Gadkari, Union Minister for Road Transport and Highways in 2019 and apprised him of the urgency to hew out the new corridor, considering the worsening congestion on NH corridors within the city where intra-city/district, inter-district and inter-State vehicles jostled for space.

“I met the Director of NHAI in-charge of Kerala in this connection,” Mr. Behanan said. Mr. Eden, who raised a submission on the project in the Lok Sabha said that every effort would be made to realise the project through the greenfield alignment. The alignment passes through three Parliament constituencies.

The NHAI’s pre-condition that the State government must pool in with half the expense for land acquisition was not raised during the meeting to finalise the alignment, until the end of 2019. Even as the State government was game to provide 25% of the cost of acquiring land for the Thiruvananthapuram-Kasaragod NH development, it has made it clear that NHAI will not be permitted to collect toll for Kollam and Alappuzha NH Bypasses, since it had provided half the project cost.

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