Tardy land acquisition in the State to blame for slow progress
Only 101 km of the 28,532 km of National Highways newly laid in the country (NH) between April 2014 and March 2018 has been in the State.
Of the 101 km, 29 km was constructed in 2014-15, 10 km in 2015-16, 45 km in 2016-17, and 17 km in 2017-18. Kerala is 27th among the 33 States and Union Territories on the State-wise list of NH constructed during the four-year period by the Ministry of Road Transport and Highways (MoRTH).
Rajasthan, with 4,116 km, tops the list followed by Maharashtra 2,544 km, Uttar Pradesh 2,489 km, Karnataka 1,868 km, and Madhya Pradesh 1,710 km.
In 2014-15, as much as 4,410 km of NH was constructed in the country, 6,061 km in 2015-16, 8,231 in 2016-17, and 9,829 km in 2017-18.
The slow progress of laying NH is reflected in the statistics as only 0.3539% of the newly laid corridors during the April 2014 to March 2018 period is from Kerala.
Only Sikkim, Puducherry, Nagaland, Goa, Andaman and Nicobar Islands, and Chandigarh are behind the State. The poor performance in laying NH corridors is a concern for MoRTH that funds road development projects as it leads to cost escalation and other issues.
Hurdles faced by the State government in acquiring land due to opposition from local people is the reason for the slow pace of NH development in the State, project officials said.
Of 1,350 ha to be acquired for the four/six-laning of National Highway 66, development of rail network, airport, and Centrally funded projects in the State, 1,190 ha is needed for development of NH 66 from Thalapady in Kasaragod to Kazhakuttam in the capital.
The National Highways Authority of India, which had set December 2020 as the deadline for completing the NH 66 work with a right of way (RoW) of 45 m may, miss the deadline.