If NHAI is favourable, the state government is ready to alter the plan to build a bypass through the wetlands in Keezhattur, Taliparamba replacing it with an elevated highway aka fly-ower, said Kodiyeri Balakrishnan, secretary of CPI(M) state unit. He was talking on the sidelines of the ‘environmental activism’ of ‘Vayalkkilikal’ at a public meeting organised in Kannur on the occasion of A K Gopalan day. Through this declaration, Kodiyeri Balakrishnan snidely made a pass to the rolling moss to the hands of central government. “It is NHAI and not the state government who decides the allotment of a highway. It is not Pinarayi Vijayan or G Sudhakaran either,” he said.
The recent events in Keezhattur, Thalipparambu where a bypass was proposed to be constructed on a paddy field attracted a lot of critical attention from the media as well as the opposition parties in Kerala. The bypass was proposed as a solution to end the traffic issues in the Kannur-Kasargod road. Some alternatives were mooted such as building an overbridge atop the paddy fields so that the green belt will not suffer much, a move that will, in turn, increase the project expenditure for the highway without leaps and bounds.
If the central government accepts the proposal to build a fly-ower-bridge instead of a bypass, the state government will co-operate, said Kodiyeri. He clarified that the decision regarding the overbridge rests with the National Highways Authority of India (NHAI). He was speaking at an event commemorating A.K Gopalan, the leader of opposition of India’s first parliament.
He also said that the decision to construct the bypass through Keezhattur farmlands was not taken by Chief minister Pinarayi Vijayan or G. Sudhakaran but by the NHAI which is under the central government. The only duty of the state government is to acquire the lands that are selected by the NHAI for a particular project.
In this pretext, let us get into some details of the National Highways Act,1956 – An act to provide for the declaration of certain highways to be national highways and for matters connected therewith. In this act, according to clause 3(A) (the power to acquire land), the first point states that, Where the Central Government is satisfied that for a public purpose any land is required for the building, maintenance, management or operation of a national highway or part thereof, it may, by notification in the Official Gazette, declare its intention to acquire such land. This clearly justifies Kodiyeri’s statement.
“ Some people are equating the events in Keezhattur to the Nandigram incident in West Bengal. Just because Nandigram happened once doesn’t mean that you can make a Nandigram out of every incident. If the bypass is cancelled, other parties will try to strengthen their vote bank by claiming that development is a lackey in Marxist areas. This is what happened in Tripura. The mislead public should understand this and come back. “
“Don’t hinder development by bringing in environmental concerns. If this is an attempt to topple the government, the people will protect the government. CPI(M) will not be the ones to start violence, the people will defend us” – Kodiyeri added.