End to nearly five decades of wait
Ending a nearly five-decade-old wait, the Alappuzha bypass road was opened for traffic on Thursday.
The project was jointly inaugurated by Union Minister for Road Transport and Highways Nitin Gadkari and Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan through videoconference.
Speaking at the function, Mr. Gadkari said the Union government was constructing 35,000 km of the National Highway in the country as part of the Bharatmala Pariyojana. “Of this 1,234 km of road is being developed in Kerala. In addition to this, 119 km of port connectivity roads are being planned under the Bharamala and Sagarmala schemes in the State,” he said.
Mr. Gadkari said that 580 km of National Highway had been developed in Kerala between 2014 and 2020. In 2020-21, 177-km road would be developed in the State at a cost of ₹604 crore. “Plans are afoot to develop the 13-km stretch of the National Highway 66 between Aroor and Thuravoor as a six-lane elevated road. As part of the Mumbai- Kanyakumari Economic Corridor, 650-km road will be developed under 23 projects in Kerala,” he said.
The Union Minister said 227 blackspots had been identified on National Highways in the State and steps were being taken to reduce the number of road accidents. He also said the government was considering using coir and jute in road construction.
Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan said the State had made strides in ensuring basic infrastructure, especially in terms of highway development, in the last four-and-a-half years. Mr. Vijayan said that steps would be taken to reduce the number of road accidents by 50%. He said the Palarivattom flyover would be completed in May, 2021.
The Chief Minister also sought the attention of the Centre towards the construction of a ring road for the Vizhinjam harbour.
The 6.8-km two-lane Alappuzha bypass road, passing through the western side of NH 66, links Kommady in the north to Kalarcode in the south. The project came to fruition after a wait of nearly five decades. The project got delayed on various accounts.
On April 10, 2015, it was put back on track with a deadline of September 2017 for the completion of the project. However, the project got delayed further owing to various reasons, including getting permission from Railways to place girders over the railway track as part of the construction of two rail overbridges at Malikamukku and Kuthirapanthy. One of the major features of the bypass is a 4.8-km stretch of the elevated highway that passes by the Alappuzha beach. Of the 4.8-km elevated highway, 3.2 km is flyover.
The project was implemented at a cost of ₹348 crore with equal shares borne by the Union and State governments. Besides, the State government spent an additional ₹25 crore for developing Kalarcode and Kommady Junctions and installing street lights among other works.
Meanwhile, Congress party workers staged a protest march from General Hospital Junction to Kalarcode, the venue of the inauguration, for not inviting K.C. Venugopal, MP, and other Congress leaders. Although Mr. Venugopal’s name was on the programme list — he represented the Alappuzha Parliament constituency between 2009 and 2019 and worked to materialise the project — he skipped the inaugural function stating that he was not invited.
Governor Arif Mohammed Khan, Union Minister of State for Road Transport and Highways V.K. Singh, Union Minister of State for External Affairs V. Muraleedharan, Public Works Minister G. Sudhakaran, Finance Minister T.M. Thomas Isaac, Food and Civil Supplies Minister P. Thilothaman, A.M. Ariff, MP, and others attended the function.
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