Many Rail development projects in Kerala pending since State failed to acquire requisite land

TIRUVANANTHAPURAM: Though the State government has achieved good progress in acquiring land for the four/six-laning of NH 66 from Thalapady in Kasaragod to Kazhakuttam in the capital, it has failed to maintain the pace in land acquisition for the development of railway network, airport and Centrally-funded projects.

Delay in completion of projects funded by the Centre is a bone of contention between the BJP-led Union government and the CPI(M)-led State government.

In a recent letter to Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan, Prime Minister Narendra Modi had linked the delay in project completion to the slow pace of land acquisition.

The State has acquired over 55% of the land for NH 66 development, overcoming agitations by local people, in an effort to meet the September 2018 deadline for acquiring the remaining 1,160 hectares.

But, this pace is not reflected in the development of the railway corridor, Thiruvanthapuram international airport, and other projects.

In the 17-km doubling of Ettumanur-Chingavanam railway section of the Thiruvananthapuram-

Kottayam-Ernakulam sector, the State has failed to hand over five hectares in May as promised in January this year. As many as 275 properties had to be acquired and the proceedings are moving at a snail’s pace in Kottayam. Railways had awarded the ₹60-crore work to contractors as per the promise made by the State.

Plans to put Sabarimala on the railway map are also getting delayed due to land acquisition troubles and over the question of cost-sharing of the ₹2,800-crore project.

Of the 212 hectares of land needed, only 24 hectares had been given to Railways. Eight km of track had been laid from Angamaly.

The remaining work has been held up due to the delay in acquiring 0.6 hectares for RoBs at Nedumbassery and Nayathodu.

Four months ago, Railways had submitted a request for acquiring 15 hectares along the 6-km railway line from Thiruvananthapuram Central to Nemom for doubling. The acquisition is yet to gain momentum.

Acquisition of five hectares for doubling the Kanyakumari-Nagercoil corridor in Tamil Nadu is in final stages, sources said.

The State has also not kept its promise to acquire and hand over eight hectares of land for constructing a new domestic terminal on the city side in the capital and for other development works of the Thiruvananthapuram International Airport.