Kerala govt agency on Keezhattur bypass plan

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: The government, on Tuesday, reiterated its decision to go ahead with the proposed bypass project at Keezhattur in where a section of landowners and activists are protesting against the project. Chief minister Pinarayi Vijayan reiterated in the assembly that the road is indispensable and changes cannot be made to the proposed alignment.
“Those who are protesting have no alternative. There is no way but to go ahead with the existing plan,” he said. Quoting figures that showed an increase in the total land brought under farming, he said the government has given priority to farming, but the expansion of national highway – the lack of which is taking a heavy toll in the form of increasing – is inevitable.

leader , who sought permission for an adjournment motion on the matter – said the UDF was not taking an anti-development stand. The front was unhappy over the way in which government dealt with the protesters.

Mandatory procedures to be followed under the Land Acquisition Act – including social impact assessment and expert appraisal committee studies – have not been done. A temporary shed erected by protesters was burnt down by CPM men in the presence of police,” he said, adding that CPM, which couldn’t convince its cadres who are opposing the project, cannot talk about development.

Comparing the protestors to vultures, PWD minister said that 56 people had given consent to surrender their land for the project. “Among the three proposed present alignments, the present one displaced the least number of people. The present alignment will displace only 28 houses. Also, 10 acres of paddy land will be lost across a 780m stretch. The ongoing protest is anti-democratic,” he said.

Responding to the suggestion by Taliparamba MLA James Mathew that an elevated highway should be built where the land is in question, the minister said that the government will forward the suggestion to National Highways Authority of India.

Opposition leader slammed the government for not allowing a peaceful protest. He said that instead of using an iron hand, the government should invite them for talks and settle the issue. “Government claims that outsiders are protesting there and that it is unacceptable. This is a strange argument. In a democratic country, can’t an outsider join a protest?” he asked.

He asked whether CPM leaders and – who led the long march in Maharashtra –were farming in that state. The opposition walked out after speaker denied the adjournment motion.

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