“For the development of National Highways in the state, if religious institutions are affected, God will forgive us.” The Kerala High Court made this observation on Friday while dismissing a batch of petitions challenging the acquisition proceedings for the National Highway development in Kollam district citing that it will affect religious institutions.
The High Court also observed, “Without difficulty to a section of citizens, no development activities can be implemented in the country. Difficulties are part of development. When the development of the country is the object, citizens should neglect their minor difficulties.”
The petitions were filed challenging the acquisition of land for the widening of NH-66 ran through Umayanallor village, Thazhuthala, and adjacent villages of Kollam district. The petitioners argued that the government of Kerala with a specific intention to save religious institutions suggested some change in the alignment, but the same has been neglected by the National Highway Authority of India. Their grievance is that to save a private mosque, the alignment of the NH itself is changed and the acquisition is concentrated on the northern side of the existing NH, where some of the petitioners are residing and some religious institutions are situated.
“Whether there is a residential building erected on the proposed alignment for the NH or there is a temple or a mosque or grave, which will be affected by the acquisition, it is not a ground for dropping acquisition proceedings for a public purpose,” observed Justice PV Kunhikrishnan.
The court pointed out that good transport infrastructure like the highway network enhances the transport system and this in turn reduces the production costs, while it increases productivity and profitability. The highway network also makes transportation schedules and deliveries more reliable and timely. Highways also contribute immensely to social groups and even to strengthen family relationships.
“The citizens can visit their loved ones more often and it enhances the good relationship between family and friends. The highway can relatively reduce travel time to villages, cities and towns and thereby encourage people to travel for business and trade. Highways make journeys faster, comfortable, and safer than usual while at the same time, reduce fuel consumption also. When you want better National Highways to improve the economy of the country, land is necessary for which acquisition proceedings are inevitable. Of course, that may create some problems for the citizens because they may lose the land where they and their families were staying for decades,” the court said.