KV Thomas, Representative Image | Photo: Mathrubhumi Archives
Kochi: The National Highway Authority of India (NHAI) asserted that the agreement that the state government has to bear a 25 per cent share for land acquisition of national highway development has not been scrapped.
Last March, KV Thomas, the special representative of the Kerala government in Delhi, following a discussion made with Union Minister for Transport and Highways Nitin Gadkari, maintained that the Centre has agreed to exempt the requirement.
NHAI in a reply given to the RTI query of Proper channel president MK Haridas also informed that the authority is unaware of any discussions made by Thomas and the ministry.
According to the contract signed between the NHAI and Kerala government on October 3, 2019 (which was later renewed on September 3, 2021), the state will have to bear a 25 per cent share for land acquisition of national highway development.
What happened in the past?
When NH-66 development met a stalemate, Kerala proposed that it would bear 25 per cent of the cost incurred for land acquisition. In October 2019, the union and state governments reached a mutual agreement. The government paid the amount on time.
However, chief minister Pinarayi Vijayan recently said in the assembly that the agreement was only applicable to NH-66 and the union government cannot expect the state to do so in all similar projects in the state. He added that NH expansion is the right of the state and not a freebie.
Earlier too, Pinarayi questioned the agreement. He said it was discriminatory as the union government bears the complete expense of NH construction in other states. Meanwhile, the union government maintains that the land rates in Kerala are way higher than in other states.