New Delhi: The works on the National Highway expansion on the Mannuthy-Wadakkanchery stretch and Kuthiran tunnel in Kerala's Thrissur district are likely to commence again as the central government has assured to clear up bottlenecks that have stalled the projects. Union Minister of Road Transport and Highways Nitin Gadkari gave the assurance in this regard to a few Member of Parliaments (MPs) from Kerala here on Friday.
The centre will give all support, including financial aid to the contract company, to revive the projects in Kerala, Gadkari said.
The minister instructed to take measures to reduce the accidents on the service road and in the areas near the Kuthiran tunnel. The maintenance works of the current road should also be completed immediately, he urged.
The state forest department has to give permission to complete the construction of the tunnel. The state government has to take responsibility for this, the minister said.
Gadkari also said that he would intervene to speed up the procedure if permission had to be given by the Union Ministry of Environment and Forest.
The central government had called the meeting after Thrissur MP T N Prathapan submitted a letter along with translated copy of a Malayala Manorama article, ‘Vicharana’, that highlighted the problems at Kuthiran.
"The project is at a standstill due to the financial crisis of the contract company. Efforts are on to get help from financial agencies. The government would also back such efforts. There was fallout from the part of the contract company in the construction. It is possible for the government to replace the firm. However, if the contract company approaches the court, it could drastically impact the construction and hence the government was not resorting to any such move," Prathapan said.
Union Minister of State V Muraleedharan, Members of Parliament T N Prathapan, N K Premachandran, V K Sreekandan, Ramya Haridas, Hibi Eden, M K Raghavan, Dean Kuriakose, Rajmohan Unnithan, and A M Arif, took part in the meet. Social activist Shaji Kodankandathu, who had moved the High Court against problems in the highway expansion, and senior officials of the National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) and transport ministry were also present.
However, there was no representative of the Kerala government at the meet. PWD Minister G Sudhakaran and the secretary of the transport department were invited, it is said.