Travelling through the 3.06-km-long NH-66 stretch from Poovanpara to Moonnumukku in Attingal has been a nightmare not just for the local people who have to negotiate this narrow road regularly, but anyone who travels on the road between Kochi and Thiruvananthapuram. An end may be in sight for their travails, as the initial steps for the widening of the road will begin this week.
According to M.Pradeep, Chairman of the Attingal Municipality, the demolition of encroachments on puramboke land on both sides of the Highway will begin on Thursday.
“We have already issued notices to 136 individuals who have encroached upon the puramboke land on either side of the Highway. A majority of these are shops, while there are few houses and land on which no construction activity has been carried out. All of their records have been examined, before including them on the list. A final hearing will be held on Wednesday. The demolitions will begin on Thursday. The Highway work is expected to begin by this month,” said Mr. Pradeep. Some of the traders have already made arrangements to construct shops behind their existing ones, which will have to be demolished for the highway. Small shopping complexes have also already come up behind the line of shops near the junction.
The shopkeepers themselves are suffering due to lack of parking space and are demanding expansion.
They have to wait till night to unload their stock purchases. Those who are doing their business on rented shops are not so keen to move though.
“We don’t expect much opposition during the demolitions, as this has been a long time demand. If the shopkeepers in puramboke land ask for rehabilitation, we will provide them first preference in the complexes to be constructed by the municipality,” said Mr.Pradeep.
More than 10 Government offices, including the taluk office and village office are located along this route. Most of them will lose a part of their land, but the buildings which are located further away from the road will be saved.
For about three decades, the residents of Attingal, as well as those who have to pass through this junction occasionally, have been raising the twin demands, for a bypass and an expansion of the stretch from Poovanpara to Moonnumukku.
There have been countless protests, countless memorandums submitted and promises given out aplenty, but the projects have never taken off, until now.