NIT-C plans to close one of busiest highway stretches in Kozhikode

NIT Calicut put up boards -- at either end of the camps at Valiyapoyil junction and Kattangal – declaring that the road belongs to the institute and that trespassing would not be allowed. Photo: Special arrangement

Kozhikode: NITC and Chathamangalam panchayat are on a collision course over the institute's claim that a busy stretch of State Highway 83 would be closed for traffic as the premier engineering institution claims it owns the property.

The Kunnamangalam-Kalpetta State Highway 83 is one of the busiest highways of the district, which connects Kozhikode city to the Koyilandy-Edavanna SH leading to the Malappuram district and high range areas of Kozhikode, Wayanad districts. It also connects the high range to the Government Medical College.

The road cuts across the NIT campus and institute authorities have been claiming that heavy traffic poses a grave danger to the 9,000-strong community of students, faculty and other officials. Recently, it put up boards -- at either end of the camps at Valiyapoyil junction and Kattangal – declaring that the road belongs to the institute and that trespassing would not be allowed. Once the repair of the nearby roads is finished, the existing road will be closed. This has enraged the residents who use the road regularly and added an amount of friction between NITC and the panchayat.

Social workers blacken the board declaring that the road belongs to the institute. Photo: Special arrangement

The panchayat authorities say the boards showed the institute's intention to encroach the public property and hinder the movement of people passing through the Kunnamangalam-Agastianmuzhi route. However, NITC claimed, in a release issued recently, that it owns the land on which the stretch of the highway passes through. It also claimed that the Kerala Public Works Department has promised to hand over the road to the institute as part of a recent agreement signed.

However, the works department served a notice on NITC asking it to remove the boards in two days. In its reply to a right-to-information query, the department claimed it owns the stretch.

Alarmed by the turn of events, Chathamangalam panchayat formed a road protection council. The panchayat president Gafoor Olikkal and other members met the NITC director on Monday and handed over their complaint. But the director repeated that the road belonged to the institute and that the institute was not ready to remove the boards.

Gafoor told Onmanorama said the panchayat was not ready for any compromise and would defend the encroachment at any cost. “We have handed over a complaint to the NITC. If they are not ready to remove the boards, we will conduct an all-party protest at the institute on June 15,” he said.

Shareef Malayamma, who filed the RTI query, said he has complained to the PWD minister PA Mohammed Riyas. “An organisation has encroached on a busy highway used by thousands of vehicles daily. They are planning to close the highway and divert the road to Valiya Poyil-Company Mukku-Kattangal Road. But the works department is not ready to act properly; it has just served a notice. Neither the ruling CPM nor its youth wing DYFI is opposing the move strongly. We something fishy,” Shareef alleged.

Chathamangalam gram panchayat president Gafoor Olikkal and other members protest in front of the NITC gate for not allowing an entry. Photo: Special arrangement

Sensing the brewing opposition, NITC said it handed over land to the works department on various occasions for 'road development, school development, on assurance of surrender of the said road and accordingly, to convert the campus a closed one with more safety and make free the campus from anti-social elements'.

“When a four-lane road is opened from the 12th Mile to Kattangal, the general public may not be able to face any difficulties,” the release noted justifying the claim to repossess the land.

PWD Executive Engineer Reena, Assistant Executive Engineer Sreejayan, Samara Samiti Convenor Olikal Ghafoor, Chairman PK Hakeem Master, traders and locals together removing the board. Photo: Special arrangement.
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