Kerala going ahead with major projects, but claims lack of funds to widen road? HC asks LDF govt

Kochi: If the state government was going ahead with major projects, which cost hundreds and thousands of crores of rupees, then how can it claim lack of funds for widening a 14 kilometre stretch of road, the Kerala High Court asked the Left government on Tuesday.

Justice Devan Ramachandran said the state government's stand appeared to be that due to financial constraints it was going to make roads which were only as wide as pavements.

The court said if the state takes such a stand, tomorrow people will seek reduction in width of roads to save portions of their properties from being taken over for construction of roads.

The state government said that an additional Rs 150 crore would be required to construct the road in question -- from Nadukani to Parappanangadi -- with a width of 12-15 metres as was initially proposed by the Kerala Infrastructure Investment Fund Board (KIIFB).

The state said that now KIIFB has suggested a reduction in road width to 10 metres due to lack of funds.

"Tell me, are you still going ahead with the major projects? Are you still going ahead with the projects which cost hundreds and thousands times more than this? This is a small project by comparison," the judge said.

The court was hearing a plea in which it has been claimed that only a 14 km stretch of the project -- from Tirurangadi to Parappanagadi -- was being constructed with a reduced width citing financial constraints.

The petition has sought that the road width as initially proposed should be maintained for the entire project.

The state government claimed in the court that the plea was "politically motivated".

The court, during the hearing, said that in most countries when building roads they look to atleast 25 years in future and here the state was only being asked to look to minimum two years in the future.

The court said that when a road is constructed, the competent authorities must keep an eye on the future by taking into account the rapid increase in traffic and also the constraints of increasing population density.

Roads cannot be left as "relics of the past", it added.

The court further said that reduced width of roads could also lead to accidents.

It also said that if what the petitioner said -- that only a 14 km stretch of the road was being proposed to be constructed at a reduced width -- was true, then the court would not be willing to accept the government stand.

The court had earlier also said that roads should be constructed with an eye on the future and not as relics of the past.

It had also said that financial crunch cannot be a reason for the state government to reduce the width of a road. PTI

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