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BJP an obstacle to Kerala's progress: Vijayan


Thiruvananthapuram: Days after a letter by state BJP chief P.S. Sreedharan Pillai written to the Centre asking it to stall a national highway project became public, Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan on Tuesday slammed the activities of the right wing forces for hindering the state's development.

"His letter came at a time when the Left government had revived the process of land acquisition in the national highway development project cutting across our state," Vijayan said after chairing a cabinet meeting here.

The Chief Minister was reacting to Pillai's letter to Minister for Road Transport and Highways Nitin Gadkari.

State Finance Minister Thomas Issac in a Facebook post had carried a picture of the Pillai letter, dated September 14, 2018, requesting to stay land acquisition proceedings for NH 66 which passes through the Edappally-Moothakunnam route in Ernakulam district.

In the letter, Pillai said that he has attached a representation by the "NH 17 Samyuktha Samrakshana Samithi" of Ernakulam district, "with regard to the anxiety over the 3A notification and land acquisition proceedings of National Highway Authority of India".

"It is also requested to keep the land acquisition proceedings in abeyance for a while," Pillai had told Gadkari.

Meanwhile, the National Highway Authority of India (NHAI) prioritised development projects into two categories -- Priority I (High priority projects which will be taken up immediately) and Priority II.

According to media reports, the development of the NH and SH corridors in the state has been included in Priority II list. The Priority II projects will have to wait another two years to begin.

The only exceptions, placed on Priority I list, are highways from Thalapady-Chengala and Chengala-Nileswaram in Kasaragod district.

The widening of the national highway in Kerala will thus have to wait till 2021 -- the year the current term of the Left Democratic Front (LDF) government gets over.

Vijayan said: "This shows the sadistic nature of the Sangh Parivar forces, who have played no part in the development of our state.

"What he (Pillai) should have done was instead of throwing a spanner in the progress of Kerala's development plans, he should have written to the state government, or at best, he could have raised it here in public domain."

Vijayan said what's most surprising is that consequent to the fresh directive of the National Highway Authority of India (NHAI), nothing would progress for two years.

"Now comes a new directive where Kerala has been pushed from priority table 1 to priority table 2. In table I, are states which are ruled by BJP, while in the table 2, the states are non-BJP governments. This policy is against the federal polity and not acceptable," added Vijayan.

"What should not be forgotten is that in the past when petrol and diesel prices were hiked, it was said that a cess would be collected from this increase for infrastructure development," Vijayan said and pointed out that all this should be taken in conjunction especially when a natural disaster had struck Kerala last year.

"When Ockhi struck, we raised a demand for Rs 7,400 crore and all we got was Rs 112 crore. Likewise when the worst floods hit our state last year, we demanded over Rs 10,000 crore and what we received was Rs 2,485 crore," added Vijayan.

When asked what were the options before the state government, Vijayan said: "Now we can raise our concerns when a new government assumes office in Delhi, later this month."

When asked about his letter, Pillai said that all he had done was forward a memorandum received from a joint action council of the people who thought they would be adversely affected by the NHAI project.

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