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Tuesday, Jun 10, 2003

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Kasargod-Trivandrum expressway will spur growth: Official

G.K. Nair

`The proposed HSC project will act as a catalyst for economic development of the State. It is expected to generate 2.5 crore employment.'

KOCHI, June 9

GROSS imbalance between the vehicular growth and capacity augmentation of roads in Kerala has made it inevitable for the State to think of constructing a high-speed corridor (HSC) linking Kasargod with Thiruvananthapuram.

During the past one decade, the vehicle population in the State increased by 305 per cent from 7.8 lakh in 1992 to 23.85 lakh in 2002. The road length had gone up from 1,21,481 km in 1992 to 1,43,000 km in 2002. Thus there was only a marginal increase of 18 per cent in the increase of road length. This has resulted in traffic congestion and safety hazards on the roads, Mr T. Elangovan, Director, National Transportation Planning and Research Centre (NATPAC), said.

Addressing the seminar organised recently by the Institution of Engineers - India, Kerala Chapter, here on the proposed 507-km expressway to be constructed at an estimated cost of Rs 6,400 crore, Mr Elangovan said the HSC had become imperative for several reasons such as constraint on capacity augmentation of the existing roads, poor functional efficiency of network, volume exceeding the capacity levels, high levels of pollution, high vehicle operating costs and high travel time.

According to Mr Elangovan, the proposed expressway would promote sustainable and balanced development, provide access to economic opportunities, enable optimal location planning for creating logistic hubs and urban modes besides helping integration of various parts of Kerala, establishing inter-State connectivity and connecting with growth centres.

It would also enable formation of tourism circuits and provide efficient transportation options. The other potential benefits include increased linkages and accessibility to many areas of the midlands and uplands of the State and to the other States in the country; increased opportunity for exploitation of tourism and industrial development in the midland and highlands, he said.

The major transportation network in the State such as the NH 47, NH 17, railway lines (BG), waterways, seaports and airports had all been developed along the coastal region in the North to South direction, he said. Hence, the transportation development in the State should aim to reduce the concentration of activities in the coastal region, while at the same time providing adequate connectivity to the present activities.

The future road development, he said, should focus on developing midland region so that high concentration of activities in the coastal zone is reduced to acceptable levels. The proposed HSC project will act as a catalyst for economic development of the State. It is expected to generate 2.5 crore employment, he said. According to the Roads and Bridges Development Corporation of Kerala (RBDCK), the promoter of this project, it is likely that the expressway would be linked to the Golden Quadrilateral, the four and six-lane high project of the Centre. As part of this move, the National Highway Authority of India has decided to provide four-lane linkage facility for NH 47 and NH 17 at the northern and southern tips of the State. Besides, there are plans to develop about 1,600-km supporting roads along with this project.

The RBDCK sources said that it was envisaged that the 100-metre wide expressway would be built with provisions for train service, power/ gas grid, canal and cable ducts. The access-controlled high-speed corridor would provide easy access to tourist zones, IT corridors, industrial zones and housing areas, they added.

The average cost would be Rs 12 crore per km. The toll rates proposed to be charged compare favourably with those charged on the Mumbai-Pune Expressway, the Coimbatore bypass, the Udaipur bypass and the Moradabad bypass, they said.

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