Loss of NH project to adversely affect Kerala IT

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Tvm: GTech, the Group of Technology Companies in Kerala, is of the firm view that reducing the width of the National Highways in Kerala would be detrimental to the development of IT and the long-term interest of the state or its citizens.

An overwhelming percentage of the youth in Kerala aspires to be engaged or employed in the value adding service sector like IT. For this industry to grow and for new investments to come in, the state needs to have safe and efficient transportation infrastructure and good connectivity. It is extremely unfortunate and, in a way, paradoxical that when the whole country is asking for more funds for building more transportation infrastructure, in Kerala, the only topic on which both the Government and Opposition got united is to block the infrastructure development.

In a release, Anoop Ambika, Secretary, GTech said, “What is required is a mass awareness programme to bring out the advantages of 45 meter NH to the citizenry of the state. It is essential that adjacent services, pedestrian roads and medians of adequate dimensions are put in place. All these would require a minimum width of 45 metres. A study revealed that the total number of families affected by road accidents each year in Kerala is three times that of the number of families affected by land acquisition for the current National Highway development project.”

NHAI has approved the expansion of about 700 kms of highways, at an estimated investment of Rs.10,000 crores, over a 30 months period. However, Kerala politicians cutting across party lines insist that the width of the highway should not exceed 30 meters (as against the NHAI standard of 60 meters), citing the impact of land acquisition on the affected people. This has put the entire project at risk and the state could lose the approved funding and a project vital to its needs.

Currently, the increase in vehicular traffic in Kerala stands at 12% pa and a 30-meter highway will be insufficient. Vehicular accidents will continue to remain high, there will be no let up in traffic congestion, fuel wastage will increase, transportation costs will continue to rise, carbon emission will shoot up and the developmental activities in the state will slow down.
 
“Whilst rehabilitation is the most important aspect that the State Government should focus on, there are also a lot of factually incorrect arguments on the impact of the expansions. The total number of people that will be affected by the land acquisition will be less than 50,000, according to the study conducted by NHAI. We must realize that the Kerala Government, considering our financial situation and other priorities, cannot afford to acquire expensive land at all, and therefore we should use Central funding to facilitate total and effective rehabilitation.” says V K Mathews, President, GTech.

The productivity loss and increased fuel costs on the Trivandrum – Kochi stretch of NH 47 itself, due to congestion and lower average speed, is estimated to be about Rs. 2,700 crores every year.

Anil Philip
Kerala IT News

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