Kochi: The proposed Express Highway Project, a dream project of Kerala Public Works Minister M K Muneer, is all set for a take off.
In a recent interview to Chandrika, the Muslim League's mouthpiece, he said the highway that will link Manjeswaram in the north of Kerala to Parassala in the south is bound to change the very face of Kerala.
After implementing the project, it would be possible to travel and bring goods from the northernmost tip of the state to the southern end within six hours. Goods from Vadakara can be brought to Kochi within a matter of two hours.
The highway is expected to revolutionise not only the road transport but all other sectors which, in turn, would give a boost to the economy of the state, Munir said.
The project, estimated to cost Rs 6,000 crore will be executed in six reaches. Munir hopes to complete the work in two or three reaches during the present government's period itself. He cited the change that the North-South Express Highway had brought about in the economy of Malaysia in this connection.
The Kerala government is going in for a satellite survey for the project. It will also make the identification of inhabited and uninhabited places and finding out the lay of the land easier. Muneer, who is planning to make use of IT for modernising his department, is right now engaged in introducing the Geological Information System in the department.
He feels that it would provide information quickly regarding all details of the public works department (PWD) roads in the state, including their period of construction, estimated cost, the engineers who worked on it and the contractor who did the job.
Asked about the World Bank assistance for the PWD, he said it has been given for raising the standard of the roads to international levels. The World Bank assistance has been given for upgrading 610 kms of roads and for implementing modern maintenance work in another 1,000 kms. Bitumen macadam and asphlatic concrete are the methods being used for maintenance. It costs Rs 35 lakh per km.
The road upgrading covers scientific construction of water drains, straightening of bends and widening of roads, construction of new bridges and implementation of wayside amusement projects on PWD land, which became available by the straightening of the bends.
He said the government proposes to introduce performance-linked maintenance contract system for future maintenance of these roads. This system has been successfully implemented in Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh, he added.