Mannuthy: Finally, it seems redemption is in sight for the Kuthiran tunnels on the National Highway between Thrissur and Palakkad in Kerala. The National Highway Authority of India (NHAI) says one among the two tunnels could be opened for two-way traffic by the end of March this year. The assurance was given by NHAI officials at a high-level meeting held on January 15.
Meanwhile, NHAI project director Nirmal Manohar Sathe inspected the work underway at Kuthiran.
According to officials, after the first tunnel is opened by late March in case the work progresses at the current pace and the flyovers at Pattikkad and Vadakkanchery are ready, toll could be introduced on the stretch. At present, 80 per cent of the work is over and as per the contract, toll may be introduced after 90 per cent of the stretch is ready. Meanwhile, the authorities have extended the term of the contract to December 20.
An issue delaying the tunnel project is the blasting of a rock above the second tunnel. The reason for the delay is that the rock is located on forest land and several sanctions have to be obtained for removing it. However, officials said that even then the first tunnel could be opened for traffic. It is also pointed out that only after opening this tunnel could work on laying a road to the second tunnel be started. Officials said that work on laying a road to the second tunnel would take at least six months.
Work on the six-lane highway had resumed last week after being stalled for nearly 18 months after all the dues were paid to the contractor and presently construction on the service roads, underpasses and the Pattikkad and Vadakkanchery flyovers is going on.