GIM’s biggest project: Rs 7,000-cr, 515-km express highway
By Jays Jacob | 16 Jan 2003
Kochi: The proposal for the construction of an express highway from Kasaragode to Thiruvananthapuram at a cost of Rs 7,000 crore may be the biggest project before the Global Investors Meet (GIM) here.
Kerala Public Works Minister M K Muneer told newspersons that the 515-km highway would generate 2.5-crore employment opportunities and spur the economic development of the state.
It would be an access-controlled high-speed corridor where vehicles could travel at 100 km and reach Kasaragode from Thiruvananthapuram in five-and-a-half hours. The 100-metre-wide expressway would be built with provisions for bullet-train service, power highway, gas grid, canal and cable ducts.
The minister said the project is aimed at reducing the mismatch between vehicle population and availability of road infrastructure. At the current rate of road development and increase in the number of vehicles, traffic would be slowing down considerably in the coming years.
The expressway would provide an alternative route and give easy access to tourist zones, information technology and industrial zones, special economic zones and housing areas. There will be an underpass or overpass every 500 metres with 350 arterial roads crossing the expressway over or under it.
Muneer said the highway would take more than 10 years to complete if taken up in a phased manner. However, if contracts are awarded separately for six sections, the project could be completed by 2008.
He said the government will have a 50-per cent stake in the total investment in the project. A sum of Rs. 1,055 crore will be required for acquisition of land and rehabilitation of displaced persons. The Kozhikode-Thrissur sector of the expressway will get priority as that sector has the highest economic internal rate of return.
The project will be taken up only after fully assessing the social and environmental impact and clearing any misgiving about the project among the people. Only locally available material will be used for the construction work. The project would need geo-textiles worth Rs 30 crore and rubber for the surfacing (at 3 per cent).
He said the state public works department will also be placing before the GIM more than half-a-dozen projects requiring a total investment of about Rs. 1,502 crore. These are the West Coast Highway (Ponnani-Kozhikode), Kottayam-Kumarakom-Cherthala Tourist Highway, Munnar Kodaikanal Road, Kochi Airport-Seaport road (Phase II and III), railway overbridges, Vadakkanchery-Pollachi road development and setting up of wayside amenities.
The 81-km Ponnani-Kozhikode highway will reduce the road distance between the two centres by 21 km.
An investment of Rs. 382 crore is required. The tourist highway would be the shortest route connecting two main lands on both sides of the Vembanad Lake (investment: Rs 220 crore). The Kodaikanal road (Rs 100 crore) will reduce the distance to Kodaikanal from Munnar by 90 km.
Muneer said railway overbridges are proposed to be constructed with private investment between Palakkad and Lakkidi stations and between Kochuveli and Kazhakoottam. The Venduruthi bridge and the bypass road at Angamaly and Perinthalmanna, and the ring road at Perumbavoor are among the other proposals.