Kerala has reasons to cheer with Union Minister for Road Transport and Highways Nitin Gadkari announcing on Thursday that the ordinance keeping Kerala out of the priority list for National Highway development has been cancelled.
As per the ordinance, National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) had put on hold all work relating to development of over 1,000 km of national and state highways in Kerala under the Bharatmala Pariyojana. Four and six-lane work and land acquisition in all districts, except Kasaragod, had been suspended through the ordinance which now remains cancelled.
Development works on NHs in Kerala would continue as before, said Gadkari who also claimed that there was “no partiality against Kerala”. He also added that ordinance cancellation was on the basis of request by Union Minister Alphons Kannanthanam. The ordinance, whose details reached NHAI office in Kerala last Saturday had created a furore in the State.
Finance Minister Thomas Isaac was quick to respond and blamed BJP state president Sreedhran Pillai of being behind it. In a Facebook post he also attached the copy of a letter of Pillai to Gadkari requesting him to stop land acquisition procedures for National Highway development in Kerala. This was in the backdrop of the row over land acquisition along the Edappally-Moothakunnam stretch of NH 66. State PWD Minister G Sudhakaran immediately wrote a letter to Gadkari against stalling NH development in Kerala and maintaining status quo.
Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan at a press conference early this week toed Isaac's line and said the Centre was neglecting NH widening and development works in Kerala.