NHAI drops Enchakkal underpass plan

Thiruvananthapuram: The National Highway Authority of India () has decided to drop the proposal to construct an (VUP) at Enchakkal as part of the widening of national highway from Kazhakoottam to Mukkola.
Instead of the proposed vehicular underpass, NHAI is considering a widened junction with traffic signal system at Enchakkal.

There has been public protest against the construction of VUP at Enchakkal. However, sources said that the proposal was dropped not due to protest, but, due to fund crunch.

The NHAI has been spent around Rs 669 crore for construction of the Kazhakoottam-Mukkola road. However, it has to spend Rs 172 crore alone for the construction of a flyover at Chackai. The additional expense for the flyover was caused by two reasons. First it has been extended up to Ananthapuri Hospital and secondly the flyover is being constructed using steel composite girders against pre-stressed concrete specified initially. The extension of flyover was a necessity due to the presence of a ramp at the airport.

As per rules, the additional works for NH widening should not cost above 20% of the total cost. A parliament committee has to give approval for further expenses. Already the additional expense for the construction of flyover has left NHAI cash strapped. Though NHAI has asked state government to share the expense for the construction of flyover at Chackai, the government refused to do so.

Sources said that the construction of VUP was not part of the initial project. The VUP was proposed later to allow uninterrupted movement of vehicles. However, the local people had launched a protest four months ago. Haja Nasaruddin, general convener of the action council, said that a meeting was held last week to discuss the issue and NHAI has informed them of dropping proposal to construct VUP. “Our demand was to construct a flyover. The officials said that they would consider it later when there is enough fund for it. Currently a signal junction is proposed at Enchakkal,” he said.

Nasaruddin said their fear was that the VUP would result in construction of huge walls in the junction and thus divide the place. “Also during major events like Attukal Pongala and strikes, vehicles are allotted parking in Enchakkal. We raised opposition after visiting VUPs near World Market and Kovalam. Representations were sent to all including the prime minister,” he said.

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