The great visionaries & missionaries of Kerala
We must be proud of our planners building better roads all over Kerala now.
In June 1990, one Ms Subhadramma wrote an article in the Indian Express and that opened the eyes of our great masters and planners at the Centre.
After 23 years, the masters and think-tanks in Kerala found out that we must have better roads and the struggle is on to save Malayalees.
As the planners failed to act, in 1993 the following article appeared in Mathrubhoomi daily.
The proposals in the above article were—
(1) Length - Kasargod to Trivandrum 600+ kms.,
(2) Width - 150 m.,
(3) 10 m. wide footpaths on either side,
(4) Four tracks of 15 m. each,
(5)Two 15 m. wide shoulders between two tracks on either side and,
(6) 40 m. wide median in the middle.
The tracks on either side are the primary roads, in which two-way traffic is permitted and next to that is the Expressway, having 4-lanes and one-way traffic in each direction.
That is 10-15-15-15-40-15-15-15-10 = 150 m. The 40 m. wide median can be developed in future as required.
The other important points are:
- (1) Hand over the ownership of this road to private sector and they can build, operate, own and maintain it. In other words, that can be called BOOM.
- (2) The toll proposed was Two paise per tonne per kilometre (2x1x1). That is, a vehicle weighing 1 tonne (1000 kg.) can travel from Kasargod to Trivandrum by paying a toll of Rs. 12 and can cover the distance in less than 6 hours. Rs. 120 for 10 tonnes,
- (3) No periodical increase in toll, and if possible reduce it in future.
- (4) Those giving land can be made shareholders of the company owning the Freeway.
- (5) The public and Govt. can invest money for the road building and can be shareholders and earn dividends and sell it to raise money in future.
- (6) Link roads to be built towards east and west to connect all towns to the Expressway.
- (7) By going for a new road an area 600 kms. long will develop and the land value in that area will increase.
- (8) The people can be relocated to other places and thus can decongest the present towns and cities and thus make life easier.
- (9) By widening the present roads, we can never attain the high speed of the future.
- (10) All the land developments in Kerala are confined to either sides of all the roads and destroying them is not the answer to improve facilities.
- (11) By demarcating a 150 or 200 m. wide stretch as the main north-south corridor transportation problems for the next 2 or 3 centuries can be addressed.
- (12) If that is done now, that can be achieved with the least destruction of man-made structures.
- (13) The only one disadvantage, when a new modern road is designed, will be the crash in the land price on either side of the present roads for the wealthy and powerful ones. However, that will be a temporary phenomenon, and will spring back to the present levels in a few years.
The missionaries and visionaries of Kerala
We must be very proud of our politicians, their followers and the planners of Kerala whose only mission is plunder and vision very parochial. They just cannot think of anything beyond five years.
30 m. wide land was acquired for NH 47 & 17 about 40-years ago. Originally, they were bullock-cart tracks hardly five ft. wide connecting nearby towns. In forty years that has reached the present width and it is said that people who donated the land 4 decades back have not received the land price fully yet.
Straightening it was a herculean task for our great engineers and even after four attempts in 40 years, most of the curves are still there.
After publishing the articles cited, there was a national awakening in road building and in the 1990s, the Central PWD Minister was a hero. Unfortunately, the leaders from Kerala never thought of it and our state was no-where in the picture in national road plans. Ignoring the idea of BOOM cited, the BOT — Build, Operate & Transfer — idea surfaced during this period from the bureaucracy. This is a short cut to bleed the people by all concerned. Our planners are very intelligent and the poor Indians are honouring them with pay and pension every month.
After killing thousands of innocent ones on the roads the politicians in Kerala finally decided to improve our roads around 2003 and the great Kerala PWD Minister Dr. Muneer came out with the proposal of the most idiotic plan that can ever be imagined in the whole world. The design once available in the website of Roads and Bridges Corporation of Kerala is copied.
The Dr Muneeraway
The way out
By the year 2050, Kerala will become the biggest city in the world 600 km long and all the roadsides will be full of buildings and people. There will be no rural-urban differentiation.
The present roads in Kerala are not designed or built in a scientific way and they can never accommodate the volume or speed of vehicles of the next generation or century. The best alternative is to design and build a new road parallel to NH 17 & 47 say 3 to 10 kms. toward the east and that must have a design speed of say 300 to 500 km/hr. Next to that, we must also plan a six-track railroad for bullet trains and by the next century, they will attain a speed of over 600 kms/hr. The width for the road must be at least 150 to 200 m. as said above to make it 8 or 16 lanes as required.
Given above a Malayalam write-up submitted before the print media in Kerala and as usual they ignored it. I humbly request all the right thinking Keralites to oppose the widening of the NH 17 & 47 from the present 30 m. to 45 m. No useful purpose will be served for the next generation and in another 50 years that 45 m. and two lanes will still be inadequate for that period of time.
It is estimated that the cost of building the new road by widening will cost around Rs. 17 crore for each kilometre and we have more than 1500 kms. to be rebuilt. The total will be Rs. 25,500 crores and the builders will recover it as toll in 30 years with 10, 15 or 20% interest. The cost for the roads will be around Rs. 7 cr. per km and the rest is compensation for the structures. to be destroyed. This is criminal waste of public money.
For repaying the principle alone in 30 years, we have to shell out Rs. 850 cr. every year. If the builders are charging only 10% interest that will be Rs. 2,550 cr. every year. That means every year the owners will drain more than Rs. 3,400 cr. from us for the next 30 years. That will be more than Rs. 1,00,000 crores! By the 30th year, we will start thinking of widening it again to reduce the road death rate in Kerala. The only way out for our planners then will be destruction of all that built during the next 50 years and widen it to 60 m.
The Cost Factor
With the money invested for a two-lane road, we can have a geometrically designed brand new road having three times its width. This will permit to accommodate more vehicles and higher speed.
That means, with just 50% of the proposed expenditure we can purchase a strip 150 m. wide instead of the 45 m. wide one. This will open up a new corridor also and more land on either sides of the 600 km long strip will start developing.
That means, out of a width of 150 m we need develop only 80 m. They are 60 m. roads and 20 m. footpaths and drainage.
In turn, we get a north-south super highway in which we can travel at more than 150 kms/hr non-stop for 600 kms. In future, this road as envisaged by Ms. Subhadramma will go up to Ahmadabad in the north and Kanyakumari in the south. In Us one travel from one end to the other, 6,000 kms. non-stop. That is also true in all developed countries. The facilities so developed is not only for the rich, as projected some among us to torpedo all developments. The new road will not divide Kerala into two areas as feared by some.
Similarly, we must have a separate 6-lane railroad system for bullet trains that can travel at 300 to 400 kms/hr. This railroad can be built two or three kms. away and parallel to Expressway on similar terms as we build the Expressway.
Simultaneously we must develop the exisiting highways and other roads within the width available. If funds are not available from the Central Govt., the same shall be entrusted to the firm coming up for the BOOM Road.
If this proposal is taken up seriously, then Keralites will pool the Rs. 50,000 crores or more required for a new road and they will be the owners of the new Freeway of the future Kerala. If implemented with the shareholders money, all that the Govt. has to insist is toll rate. The toll need not be more than that proposed 20 years ago.
I am ready to take it up, if Keralites agree and promise to stand united. We can ignore the alms from the Central Govt. We can build a Kerala worth the name — GODS OWN COUNTRY!
May God save this Gods' Own Country by making the masses here wiser.
Dr. K. Kishore Kumar,
Askoka Bhavan, Near MSM College,