Gutters and potholes for the Public

published on June 27, 2008


The ministers of parties who once vociferously opposed Express Highway for Kerala are now prefering flight journeys due to the poor condition of roads in Kerala.


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Kerala ministers are ‘high-fliers’


http://www.gulf-times.com/site/topics/article.asp?cu_no=2&item_no=226355&version=1&template_id=40&parent_id=22

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: Kerala, a 38,863sq km narrow stretch of land on the southwest coast of India, has three international airports and another is coming up soon. And the ministers’ preferred mode of transport for travel within the state is flights – they shun the rickety roads, according to Chief Minister V S Achuthanandan.

Achuthanandan, a vociferous opponent of expressways, himself leads the pack with 76 flights crisscrossing the state followed by Industries Minister Elamaram Kareem (47), Food Minister C Divakaran (40), Forest Minister Benoy Vishwam (39), Revenue Minister K P Rajendran (34), Home Minister Kodiyeri Balakrishnan (33) and S Sarma and P K Sreemathy (30 each), all stalwarts of the ruling Communist Party of India (Marxist) and its leading ally the Communist Party of India.

The chief minister also flew to Delhi 33 times but his Finance Minister Thomas Isaac surpassed him by taking flights 43 times to the national capital. Local Self-Governments Minister Paloli Mohammed took 42 flights to Delhi followed by Benoy Viswam (20).

Though the ministers undertook several foreign trips most of them were sponsored by Malayali groups abroad, especially in the Gulf, the chief minister said in the assembly. They together spent only Rs125,000 for the trips.

The chief minister failed to give details of the amount the state had to pay for his trips, but he however, said the flights opposition leader Oommen Chandy took cost Rs385,000.

The ministers prefer to fly within the state because of the bad condition of roads. It takes at least 20 hours to cover a distance of 560km to Manjeshwaram, the northern tip of the state from Parassala in the south.

The government shelved a proposal to build a four-lane expressway because of stiff resistance from Achuthanadan when he was in the opposition.

Contractors abandoned the Rs15bn World Bank-aided Kerala State Transport Project for improving state highways and the Rs2.2bn Thiruvananthapuram City Development Project accusing the state government of non-cooperation. They resumed work only recently after much dilly-dallying.


The chief minister recently agreed to sign ‘the state support agreement’ to upgrade and widen major highways covering 850km at a cost of Rs50bn.The entire stretch of 850km on three major highways in the state was to be converted into for four-lane traffic under the Phase II and III of the National Highway Development Project (NHDP).

Unlike other states, only a 46km stretch of the national highways in Kerala has width to allow four-lane traffic and some stretches are hardly navigable. The state needs good roads before the commissioning of the international container transshipment terminal (ICTT) being built by the Dubai Port World in Kochi.

The work on the remaining stretches covering 664km, including bypasses in Alappuzha and Kollam, is yet to start because of land acquisition problems in many places.

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