After protests and violence that marred land acquisition in northern districts for the four/six laning of National Highway 66, it is a smooth ride down south for acquisition proceedings in the last corridor from Cherthala to Kazhakuttam.

What surprises the revenue and National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) officials is the support being extended to them by the people, especially the youth, in laying the boundary stones for demarcating the land to be acquired. This is in stark contrast to the land acquisition process in Keezhattur, Kuttippuram, Kottakkal, Vengara and other places in the northern districts that was marred by protests and violence leading to police action.

“Here, even young children are coming forward with help and providing us with drinking water and banana and extending support to the work,” says a top NHAI official.

“The laying of boundary stones is going on smoothly and over 6 km has been covered from Oachira. This shows people are for development and widening of NH 66 that is dragging on for years,” he said. The liaison officer, NHAI, and revenue officials are carrying out the work without any police protection.

The support and change in attitude also reflects the tough stand taken by the Pinarayi government that it will not buckle under pressure and will complete the acquisition of the remaining land needed for NH development by September.

As much as 114 hectares need to be acquired for the 86-km stretch from Cherthala to Oachira and 142 hectares for the 86.9-km Oachira-Kazhakuttam stretch spread over the districts of Alappuzha, Kollam and Thiruvananthapuram.

The State has completed 55.87% of the land acquisition. The Ministry of Road Transport and Highways has issued all the 3(A) notification under the National Highway Act of 1956.

The last one was for the 172.9-km Cherthala-Kazhakuttam corridor.

The NHAI, the executing agency, has set December 2020 as the deadline for completing the NH 66 works from Thalapady to Kazhakuttam with a Right of Way (RoW) of 45 m.

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