A major accident is waiting to happen in the Vyttila-Kumbalam stretch on National Highway 47, thanks to pitch darkness in this stretch without streetlights.
While the National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) insists that it is for local bodies through which the highway passes to erect streetlights, the local bodies put the blame on the NHAI.
NHAI authorities said while it was not mandatory for it to provide for streetlights, it had included a provision for streetlights under the Operations Maintenance and Tolling contract. But the contractor concerned was yet to place the agreement.
Meanwhile, Maradu municipality is going ahead with a proposal to put up streetlights in the 4-km stretch of the national highway after its repeated request to the NHAI over the last more than a year proved futile.
“We will light up the stretch between Kannadikkadu, which marks our northern boundary, and Madavana, the southern boundary, using our own funds this year. The lack of lighting makes the stretch highly vulnerable to accidents,” said municipal chairman T.K. Devarajan, Maradu.
Earlier, the municipality had entrusted a private party with the setting up of streetlights. But the NHAI had staunchly refused the request to put up advertisements.
NHAI officials said the High Court had placed restrictions on putting up advertisements on national highways. They said indiscriminate placement of advertisements could not be allowed.
The NHAI had also turned down requests from the Kumbalam panchayat to place advertisements that made the work feasible for private contractors.
“We have been approaching the NHAI with the request for setting up streetlights for quite some time now. We don’t have funds to light up the stretch of the highway passing through our panchayat limits. At present, we have just a high mast light at two points of the highway,” said Kumbalam panchayat president A.J. Joseph.
Absence of light poses risk to both pedestrians and motorists . The chances of pedestrians being hit by speeding vehicles on the highway are high.
“Drivers may not spot the pedestrians till the last minute unless they are extremely careful. What makes it even more dangerous is the tendency of some pedestrians to run across the road without considering the speed of advancing vehicles,” said a business executive, who often passes through the stretch in his car.
Reghu, a government employee residing at Maradu, said that parking vehicles on the sides of the road presented another danger especially to two-wheeler riders who invariably take the side of the road to avoid getting in the way of bigger, speeding vehicles. “We may not spot them until they are too close. The possibility of being hit is even greater if the vehicle parked does not have parking lights,” he said.