Thursday, May 20, 2010

Talks on width of NHs inconclusive

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: The development of National Highway 47 and 17 in Kerala is likely to be delayed as no agreement could be reached between the State and the Centre on the width of the highways.

During a discussion, Union Minister of State for Road Transport and Highways R.P.N. Singh and Chief Minister V. S. Achuthanandan had here on Thursday, the latter stuck to the stand that the width should not exceed 30.5 metres because of difficulties in land acquisition in the State. The Union Minister maintained that a minimum of 45 metres was required for safety aspects. Mr. Singh and officials from the National Highways Authority of India had arrived here for talks following a representation made by an all-party delegation from the State to the Prime Minister seeking reduction of width for the highways.

Though the Central team raised the issue of developing 45-metre-wide highways on stretches where land had already been acquired, the State government did not agree to the proposal. It maintained that the State could not waver from the decision of an all-party meeting that the width should not exceed 30.5 metres. So, Mr. Singh proposed further discussions.

Mr. Singh told the media after the meeting that the Central team had put up a proposal for the State to consider. Its response to the proposal would be awaited. He said the Central norm for development of highways was 60 metres. However, considering the population density near highways in Kerala, the width was allowed to be reduced to 45 metres. It was necessary for the highways to have medians and service roads for safety.

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