NH Bypass : A Day Dreamer's Dream
On Aug 06, 2012
While the government is busy giving promises in having the capital city elevated to a status befitting a state capital, almost all projects conceived for the region are getting dropped for various reasons ,most of them unclear. The alterations that had to be made to the original design of the City Road Improvement Project is proof enough to know that the scope for further development in the present layout of Trivandrum city is severely limited.
The National Highway 47 bypass for the city was envisioned way back in 1974. Land was acquired for constricting a four lane road from Kazhakootam to Karode, after Vizhinjam, a distance of 27 kilometres. Measurements were made and marked out for building the remaining 16 kilometre stretch from Karode to Kaliyikavila, but the land is yet to be acquired. The 22 kilometre stretch from Kazhakootam to Kovalam was connected by a two lane road more than a decade ago, and that's pretty much where the whole project stands right now.
Trivandrum city is geographically unsuited to bring in mass scale developmental projects like those in other capital cities. Long term plans envisioned for Trivandrum foresees the entire city getting shifted westwards towards the coast line, with the National Highway bypass forming the central nerve of the projected city. Since then, slowly but surely, works were initiated to move the city from being centred around the National Highway towards the National Highway bypass.
The proposed four/six lane bypass carries with it the potential to being the largest IT-Tourism corridor in the country. The coming up of Technopark, which spearheaded the state's growth in the IT sector, was one of the primary and most successful initiatives in this regard. Currently work is on with the Technopark phase 2 and 3 development. Multi-national software companies have started their own campuses to the sides of the NH bypass, indicating the potential for growth if proper infrastructure is made available to investors.
The coming up of Technopark has also created a construction boom in the region, with apartment complexes springing up along the bypass. The coming of multi-speciality hospitals, large format showrooms for cars, and the international terminal complex of the airport at Chakkai have all highlighted the need for the development of the National Highway.
But the present picture of the future of Trivandrum couldn't be any more depressing. Even as the city is getting choked what with saturated roads both in terms of capacity and in potential for development. Only 22 kilometres of the NH bypass of the total 43 kilometres is complete, and that too two laned which is fast deteriorating under the growing vehicular traffic. The stretch isn't even properly lighted to ensure safe drive during night time.
While Technopark has been a very successful initiative, others carried out by the state and central governments haven’t been so, till now. The coming up of the Vikram Sarabhai Terminal at Kochuveli was supposed to take a major chunk of the load away from the Central Railway station. But currently the second terminal has very limited facilities and virtually no transport connectivity with the main city. The proposed long distance bus terminal at Enchackkal still languishes on paper.
The next important developmental project after Technopark, may be even more important than Technopark, is, or was, the Vizhinjam International Trans-shipment Container Terminal. But the solo tender bid for the project was cancelled by the government recently and the future of the project itself hangs in the balance. Uncertainty looms large as it awaits a clean chit from the Environmental Ministry for building the harbour.
Some months ago it was announced that the bypass would be converted to a four lane from Kazhakootam to Karode, A, distance of 27 kilometres where the land acquisition is already complete. The process of acquiring land for building the remaining 15 kilometre stretch from Karode to Kaliyikavila would be speeded up. But, reality suggests that the entire development plan of Trivandrum has got stuck – a bottle neck that’s choking the city.
Although NH-47 bypass has the potential to be a very vital and one of the busiest IT – Tourism corridors in the country, the uncertainty surrounding the Vizhinjam project, and the delay with the Enchakkal bus terminus and the Kochuveli terminal paints a bleak picture for the development of the NH bypass. The international cricket stadium at Kazhakootam and the stunted growth of Aakulam – Veli tourism project are some of the other plans which have got caught stuck in the muddle.
Bangalore and Hyderabad grew thanks to the ample scope of infrastructural development that the landscape offered. For Trivandrum, the region coming under the present city limits has a very limited scope for mass scale development, and so the primary objective needs to be the shifting of the city as a whole towards the western side, towards the shore line, where the land is flat and less dense.
The development of the NH bypass to a 45 metre wide road, passing through Technopark, Kovalam-Poovar tourism belt, and touching the International Trans-Shipment Container Terminal at Vizhinjam remains a day dreamer's dream for the city. At present the interested lobbies have more or less succeeded in stunting the growth potential of Trivandrum, making it undeserving of a metro or a monorail. One that is presented as a land of little opportunities to potential investors.