Originally Posted by kunjumon123
absolutely 100% agreed- expressway 4 kerala is an essential for development
Need for North-south Expressway
Road network in Kerala carry fast and slow vehicles and pass through built-up area. There is large-scale ribbon development along these roads, which makes any proposition of development of existing road, a costly and difficult task. Most of these roads have poor geometry, as they were developed by transforming and improving village roads.
Further the growing mismatch between vehicle population and availability of road infrastructure has resulted in heavy traffic densities and reduced level of service. Entire Kerala can be considered as a metropolis consisting of a large number of closely situated townships, which obstruct the free flow of traffic. The deficiencies in the road network cause delay in movement of freight and passengers and entail enormous loss by way of high vehicle operating costs. The overloading of commercial vehicles causes rapid deterioration of pavements. The transport infrastructure deficiency is one of the major obstacles in the development of Tourism, and other Industries including Information Technology.
In this context the Government of Kerala (GoK) has embarked on an ambitious program to expand and modernise the road network in the State. As part of this program, GoK commissioned various studies by domestic and international Consultants to identify a core network of roads to be developed. One of the key elements of the program is the development of an Access-Controlled High-Speed Corridor in the State. The first such facility has been identified as a 544 km North South Corridor connecting Kasargod and Thiruvananthapuram, the northern and southern boundary districts of Kerala, along the mid land region. The facility has to be connected with link roads to existing activity centers on the west and east.
The project is proposed to be developed in a commercial format with private participation. Attempts have to be made to integrate this corridor with Projects in Tourism, Information Technology, Industries, Special Economic Zones, Education, Housing, Wayside amenities etc., so that project could be an attractive investment proposition for any investor in India and Abroad.
Roads and Bridges Development Corporation of Kerala Ltd, has put forward the first step by commissioning a feasibility study for the commercial development of The Access-Controlled High-Speed Corridor connecting Thiruvananthapuram and Kasargod.
Kerala High Speed Corridor Project
Rationale for the Project
The Socio Economic Impact of the Project on the State
Critical Review of Previous Studies
Road Safety on the HSC
A good road network constitutes the basic infrastructure that propels the development process through connectivity and the opening up the regions to trade and investment. Roads play a key role in inter-modal transport development, establishing links with airports, railway stations and ports.
The State of Kerala is experiencing what is common in most parts of the country-poor network of roads leading to inefficiencies in the provision and manufacture of goods and services thus making the state a less attractive destination. A good road network provides every individual, firm or service provider an opportunity to function more efficiently thus enabling;
• citizens with an opportunity to access services speedily
• industry with an opportunity to reduce costs of production and,
• services with an opportunity to operate efficiently and thus enabling them to compete with other providers outside the state and the country
The Kerala State Highways Project, funded by the World Bank has removed most of the critical bottlenecks and improved the riding quality of the second order road system. This program resulted in the improvement many roads and provided a strengthening of the east west connectors all across the State.
However, the existing road system, particularly the arterial National Highway road network connecting the northern and southern tips of Kerala is experiencing severe constraints due to the urban sprawl/ribbon development and the limited Right of Way impeding smooth traffic flow. Infact the present road network is experiencing traffic levels higher than the road capacity, resulting in low levels of speed. With the present analysis it is evident that the traffic volume, particularly on the National Highways 17 & 47 are likely to exceed capacity levels by nearly three times in a 10 year period and about 6 times in another 20 years. This is leading to an acute need for capacity augmentation.
2. Rationale for the Project
The planning and development of the HSC is significant for the State and will result in the completion of a process of provision of roads enabling the creation of a road network that permits all citizens and businesses to be location indifferent within the State. Thus the State would be seen to be providing similar benefits to all paving the way for a Kerala which provides an economic potential which is almost equal in most of its parts.
3. Economic Imperative
The State has slowly developed a niche developmental profile for itself unlike all other states of the country. These are mainly in the areas of :
• Facilities offering traditional health care have become a large tourist attraction thus increasing the economic profile of the State.
• Likewise, the State has been able to develop a large number of educational institutions which has been supplying trained manpower in numerous trades all across the country and the world
To further bolster the development of these niche and other potential non polluting industries all across the State a corridor running across the state would significantly benefit the economics and reduce any locational disadvantages that may be perceived in the setting up of a business anywhere in Kerala
4. Transportation Imperative
The urban sprawl and extensive ribbon development on the current National Highway corridors has resulted in :
• Limited capacity to expand the current alignment
• A significant drop in travel speeds
• Poor safety standards
• Increased cost of travel
• High levels of pollution
• Increased average trip lengths
• Significant increase in Vehicle Operating Costs
• Increased travel time per passenger unit
5. Linkage imperatives
The State has been fortunate to have a number of supporting and ancilliary transport facilities within and adjacent to it. Primary among these are :
i) The International airports at Trivandrum , Kochi and Kozhikode
ii) The Proposed and existing ports at Vizhinjam, Kochi , Beypore and Mangalore
Having completed the improvement programme of second order roads in the State, it is now prudent and imperative on the part of the Government of Kerala to undertake a arterial road development program for the state.
Thus the development of a high speed, access controlled, North-South Expressway would provide the fulcrum of such a programme.
The creation of the North South Corridor does not imply that there is a significant movement and thus a need for movement from one end of Kerala to the other but only signifies that the dispersal of activities all across the state will require quick movement of traffic on shorter links all along the corridor
Dovetailed with the proposed road improvement projects under the Central Government sponsored National Highway development programmes,, the North South Corridor would result in the State being able to position itself as a prime competitor for investments in specialised health, education and IT facilities unlike any in the entire country and the World
Such thinking is not new-Infact The GoK initiated preliminary studies way back in 1997 towards addressing this issue and has considered the development of an Access-controlled High Speed Corridor (HSC) traversing through the state in the North – South direction as a prime requisite for its continued and balanced development.
In view of the possibility of implementing the programme in a Public Private Partnership framework, the GoK have asked Infrastructure Leasing and Financial Services Limited (IL&FS) has been asked to provide project development support and partner GoK in the development and implementation of the project.
6. The Socio Economic Impact of the Project on the State
Infrastructure projects have linkages to the economy- multiple and complex which affects production and consumption directly, creates positive and negative spill over effects (externalities) and involves large flows of expenditure. In the context of the HSC a preliminary estimate of the benefits flowing to the State due to its implementation is as given below:
The development of the HSC is likely have the following impacts on the state of Kerala:
• Impact on Direct Employment: 25 crore man-days
• Impact on Indirect Employment: 200 crore man-days
• Impact on State GDP: Incremental growth of 1% - 2%
• Impact on Below Poverty/ Marginal Income Earners: Incremental 30%
• Savings in Vehicle Operating Costs: Rs. 3,000 crores p.a.
It would take less than 6 hours to traverse from the Southern tip to the Northern tip of Kerala on the HSC as against a current journey time of about 12 to 15 hours
7. The Proposed Project
a) The project, as currently proposed, will vet and modify the preliminary alignment made by the earlier consultants through ground truthing and assessment of impacts covering technical, environmental and social
b) The proposed project links the Northern and Southern parts of Kerala and will traverse through the state ensuring a broad based regional parity in terms of connectivity and social development.
c) As per the previous assessments, the 600 km long alignment comprises 17 intermediate interchanges/nodes and 18 links. The links to be taken up are based on a preliminary viability assessment and have been aggregated into 3 packages
d) It has been proposed that Activity Nodes be developed on 12 of the 17 interchanges on the HSC. The total commercial area to be developed has been assessed at 26.3 lac sq.mtr. spread over 730 hectares along the 12 nodes.
8. Previous Studies
a) In 1997, the Public Works Department, Government of Kerala (PWD) had appointed M/s RITES to conduct a Pre – feasibility Study(The 1997 study) to identify the HSC alignment. The principal objectives of the study were as follows:
b) Selection of tentative alignment for the entire length including cost estimation and economic viability
c) Detailed feasibility study for prioritised segments
d) The 1997 study proposed an alignment (544 km) that was divided into two segments:
e) Northern Segment: Kasargod to Thrissur
f) Southern Segment: Thrissur to Thiruvananthapuram
g) In 2002, M/s LEA Associate South Asia Limited (LASA) was selected for undertaking a Techno Economic Feasibility Study(The 2002 study) for the Access Controlled High Speed Corridor. The 2002 study recommended the construction of the proposed High Speed Corridor and proposed an alignment demarcated on the topo-sheets after considering the terrain, design, environmental and social factors. The 2002 alignment coincided with the 1998 alignment for Link 1- Link 13 whereas for the southern part of the state a new alignment that lies east of the 1998 alignment has been proposed so as to achieve fluency in the alignment and minimize the resettlement impacts.
h) The 506.5 km alignment proposed by the 2002 study comprises 17 intermediate interchanges/ nodes and 18 links that have been divided into three phases. The LASA report has prioritized the implementation of the phases as follows:
i) Phase I : Pulikkal to Athani
ii) Phase II : Athani to Pallippuram
iii) Phase III : Chalinkal to Pulikkal
9. Critical Review of Previous Studies
a) GoK apprised three leading infrastructure developing and financing agencies-Infrastructure Development Finance Company(IDFC), SBI Capital Markets and Infrastructure Leasing and Financial Services Ltd(IL&FS) for their proposals to partner it in the development of this project . Based on detailed discussions with each of them and based on their past experiences, GoK selected IL&FS
b) Infrastructure Leasing and Financial Services Limited (IL&FS) were requested by GoK to assess the viability of implementing the proposed HSC on a commercial format. IL&FS reviewed all the information available on the proposed project and placed its views and recommendations for consideration by the GoK. The GoK, recognizing the need for additional work has set up a Joint Venture company with IL&FS to undertake further work and accepted these recommendations. Some of the prime recommendations made included:
i. Traffic: The tollable traffic on the HSC needs to be reassessed based on a phase wise implementation plan.
ii. Toll Rates: The business plan should assume the Toll rate schedule of Ministry of Road Transport and Highways(MoRTH) as the maximum
iii. Viability: The economics of the HSC should be assessed independently – and the viability gap determined. The surplus to the government from the Activity Node development should be used to partly meet the viability gap of the HSC.
iv. Environmental and Social impact : A detailed environmental and social impact assessment needs to be undertaken including public consultations to finalise the contours of the project
v. Phased Development: The project should be implemented in phases beginning with the most viable section.
vi. Right of Way: A Right of Way (RoW) of 100 meters may not be required for the final configuration of the HSC. Reduction in the ROW to about 60 metres would reduce resettlement and rehabilitation requirements, Government support and improve project economics
10. Road Safety on the HSC
The HSC will be a demonstration project that is committed to develop and implement the project to international standards in quality and service. Some of the innovative features that will be incorporated in the project scope are briefly described herein:
Road User Safety : Safety to the users of the HSC shall be the main focus in developing the present model for the Project. This shall be ensured through the provision of road furniture including signage on the road being designed and maintained in order to minimise occurrence of accidents. This shall include centre line marking with reflective thermoplastic paints, chevron markings, road studs, reflective cats eyes and installation of superior class signage all along the Project. Additionally through geometric arrangements the junctions would be designed with proper turning radii, proper lighting for all arms at the intersections, Lane marking, Make provision for adequate signboards, Install traffic guide posts with reflectors and not providing bus-stops at intersections. It is also proposed to locate/allow others to locate way side amenities including rest areas, petrol bunks and other amenities along the HSC.
Other measures : In addition to safety measures for ensuring safety to users, provision would be made to provide access to both sides of the HSC through underpasses for pedestrians, vehicles and cattle. Also there would be grade separated interchanges on all important junctions
11. Environment Assessment
a) The requirement of an alternative road has already been justified by the past studies undertaken by RITES and LASA.
b) LASA undertook a Rapid Assessment and Site Appreciation Survey for the same. The major conclusions of the LASA studies are as follows:
i) The new alignment would require twice the agricultural land than required for the widening and the improvement of the existing NH.
ii) The widening and improvement of the existing NH would require three times acquisition of the built up areas as required for the new alignment suggested by LASA.
iii) The impact of acquisition of built up area would be relatively low for the new alignment proposed by the LASA.
iv) Mostly the NH passes close to several environmentally sensitive areas such as backwaters apart from other water bodies. There are also stretches that are adjacent to the reserved forests and protected areas. The widening of the NH will have adverse impact on these sensitive areas. There are schools, hospitals, houses and other basic infrastructure facilities are located along the NH. Any widening will cause removal and resettlement of all these structures. The pollution levels will increase in these areas.
c) In the present study field studies will be conducted to determine the existing conditions of various environmental attributes viz., air quality, meteorology, surface and ground water quality, ecology, prevailing land use and industrial activities along the project road and noise levels. Meteorological data will be generated at selected locations.
Other studies such as land use pattern, socio-economic profile will be based on secondary data collected from various Government agencies supplemented by field surveys carried out by the Consultants. Comprehensive field observations would be utilised to evaluate alternative alignments wherever there were problems of sensitive, social and technical issues such as existing topography, surface water bodies and villages or sensitive areas.
d) The current study will develop a detailed environmental impact statement and address mitigation measures to offset any negative impacts. All costs incurred on such mitigation will form a part of the project cost and a part of the legally implementable contractual framework devised for the project
12. Social Assessment
A detailed social analysis study will be carried out to provide a socio-economic profile of the project area and address in particular, indigenous people, poverty alleviation, gender, local population, industry, agriculture, employment, education, health, child labor, land acquisition and resettlement. Studies and analysis shall be carried out to include :
a) A Base line socio-economic and census survey to assess the impacts on the people, properties and loss of livelihood will be conducted. The socio-economic survey will establish the benchmark for monitoring of R & R activities.
b) A Resettlement and Rehabilitation Plan including assessing of feasibility and effectiveness of income restoration strategies, suitability and availability to relocation sites will be prepared. The resettlement plan shall provide the fullest possible assessment of the number of affected households and persons, including common property resources. All occupants are recorded at the initial stages and identity cards are issued to ensure there is no further influx of people into the project area. All consultations with affected persons (to include list of participants) should be fully documented and records made available to SPV
c) A matrix of scheduled activities linked to land acquisition procedures to indicate clearly what steps and actions shall be taken at different stages and the time frame.
d) The resettlement and rehabilitation plan would be finalised based on a series of public consultation process conducted with the beneficiaries and various stakeholders of the project
e) The payment of compensation and resettlement during the acquisition process including an itemized budget (replacement value for all assets) and unit costs for different assets. All such costs will be included as apart of the project cost
13. Present Status
A company ‘Kerala High Speed Corridor Company Limited' has been incorporated on 24 th June 2004 under the Companies Act 1956 to undertake the development of the project.