“The total number of families affected by road accidents each year in the state is three times that of the number of families affected by land acquisition for current National Highway development”. This is one of the shocking findings of the study prepared by Centre for Public Policy Research (CPPR) on the issue of reducing the width of National Highways in Kerala from 45 metres to 30 metres. The study was supported by Association of Industries and Chambers in Kerala and a Memorandum was submitted to the Government of India reporting the findings and its repercussions.
The delegation led by Hon. Chief Minister and comprising Hon. Leader of Opposition and leaders of all political parties met the Prime Minister have urged on reducing the width of National Highways. This decision will surely lead to disastrous and far reaching consequences on Kerala’s progress. The major obstacle is the opposition from the people whose houses and shops will have to be removed. According to the study, total number of dwellings affected by land acquisition is 11283 which mean that the total number of people affected by land acquisition is only around 50,000 and 24 lakh is an exaggerated statement. When this number is compared with the total number of families affected by road accidents is atleast three times than that of the families affected by eviction for National Highway development.
Around 8.5 lakhs people in Kerala are heavily depending on its NH Roads for the movement of goods and people every day. 20. 7 million middle class population in the state and the non residents population leads to 1:6 vehicle to population ratio. Also almost 80 percent of the materials consumed in Kerala come from outside the state and a substantial part of that is moved by road. The capacity of the road is decreasing with the increasing number of vehicles.
The Government of Kerala has to take an holistic approach to this issue at the political and administrative level. Fair compensation should be realistically worked out and a very reasonable rehabilitation plan has to be prepared and patiently explained to the affected persons.