The long-delayed bypass is expected to reduce the travel time for those who use NH to go from Thiruvananthapuram to other parts of the state.

Relief for Tpuram NH commuters at last PM Modi to inaugurate Kollam bypass on Jan 15
news Road Transport Monday, January 14, 2019 - 10:00

Passing Kollam is a nightmare for those who travel on the National Highway from Thiruvananthapuram to other parts of the state. During peak traffic hours, it may take hours to pass a few kilometres from Kottayam- the starting point of Kollam town to Kavanad- the ending point. Well, the commuters can now heave a sigh of relief. The inauguration of the much-awaited bypass in Kollam- by now has become known as the Kollam bypass- will be held on Tuesday, January 15. Prime Minister Narendra Modi will inaugurate the bypass.

The bypass

The bypass connects 13 kilometre stretch from Mevaram to Kavanad in Kollam district. Kollam is the southernmost district of the state after the capital district Thiruvananthapuram. Kollam connects Thiruvananthapuram with the rest of the state if one chooses to travel on National Highway, and not MC road.

The traffic in Kollam city can delay travellers for hours and the bypass has been much awaited one for all the regular travellers.

The bypass is a project equally funded by the state and the Centre.

The construction of the bypass was completed in four phases. The first phase was from Mevaram to Ayathil, the second phase was from Ayathil to Kallumthazham, the third from Kallumthazham to Kadavur and the fourth from Kadavur to Kavanad. The construction of the third and fourth phases got approval on January 17, 2014 and the amount sanctioned was Rs 277.25 crore. But it was not possible to begin it with the amount allotted. On January 23, the amount was raised to Rs 352.5 crore and in a day, the contract for the construction was approved. The construction began on May 27, 2015 and the aim was to complete the work by November 26, 2017.

“This could be perhaps the first bypass with both the funding of the Centre and state governments. It was the previous Oommen Chandy led Congress government which was ready to partially fund the project. After the Left Democratic Front government came to power, the November 2017 deadline was missed, and the contract was extended to August 22, 2018. But in August 2018, the Centre gave stern instructions that the work should not be delayed anymore, prompting the contractor to finish the work soon," a source said.

The project was conceived long back in 1972 and the work on the final phase began on May, 27, 2015. The share of the state is Rs 174 crore. The 1.5 kilometre Ayathil-Kallumthazham stretch was completed in 1999 and the Mevaram-Ayathil stretch in 1993.

The political fight

The UDF, LDF and the Union government have been competing to own the credit of the bypass for a while. The state government had announced that Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan will inaugurate the bypass on February 2. But in a move that surprised the state, the Centre informed that Prime Minister Narendra Modi will inaugurate the bypass on January 15.

The Left has been blaming NK Premachandran, the MP representing Kollam, alleging that he took the initiative to bring Modi for the inauguration. Premachandran, however, has denied it.

 “The state government has been delaying the completion of the work. There was even a deliberate attempt to unnecessary delay the work. The work should have been completed in November 2017. Finally, when the Minister for Public Works inspected the site, the issue he raised was that there was no street light and suddenly set up a committee to install street lights. When I understood that there is an unnecessary delay, I met Minister for Road Transport and Highways Nitin Gadkari. He had agreed to inaugurate the bypass in January by incorporating it in his next Kerala programme,” Premachandran told TNM.

Premachandran belongs to RSP which was a former ally of the CPI (M) in the LDF. The RSP is now part of the UDF; and this has intensified the attack by the Left on Premachandran.

The state government he said didn’t communicate with him prior to announcing the inauguration by the CM. He refuted the allegations that he initiated the plan to get the PM to inaugurate. “It was the BJP state leadership who met the PM for this and a delegation from the state met him for that. BJP leader K Surendran had said this in a press meet in Kollam. It was after reports surfaced that Modi will inaugurate, I confirmed with the PM office,” he said.

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