Asks State govt. why not have a body to monitor road fund utilisation or earmark road tax exclusively for repairs

The High Court on Thursday directed the State government to file an affidavit making clear its stand on why the court shall not constitute a separate body to monitor the utilization of funds for maintenance of roads in the State.

Justice P.R. Ramachadnra Menon also directed the State to state in the affidavit why the court should not order earmarking of funds collected by way of road tax exclusively for the maintenance of the roads.

The Judge directed the State government to provide the details of the amounts earmarked and utilised for development and maintenance of roads in the state in the affidavit.

Justice P.R. Ramachandra Menon issued the directives when a petition filed by Shine Joseph and M. Pratheesh of Kochi seeking a directive to the government to repair the potholed roads in the city came up for hearing.

The government should also state in the affidavit the suitable measures taken to fix the liability and pay compensation to victims in road accident caused by the bad condition of roads.

One of the petitioners, Shine Joseph said he was an auto driver and found it difficult to earn his livelihood by driving his vehicle on the roads in Kochi since all roads were in bad condition. Pratheesh, another petitioner, an advocate clerk, said the damaged roads were making it difficult for him to ride to the High Court.

They complained that though the Ministers, including the Chief Minister had announced that the roads would be repaired before the onset of monsoon, it had not been carried out. Since the announcements, the conditions of the roads had gone from bad to worse.

Road accidents had become the order of the day because of huge craters on the roads. The potholes were developing on roads due to the unscientific works done by the contractors engaged by the government. The petitioners also pointed out that even as toll were collected on bridges in the city, the potholes on the roads leading to the bridges were yet to be filled . He pointed out that the condition of Kumbalam-Aroor bridge where toll was collected was in bad shape. Kumbalam-Panangad bridge had become a nightmare for drivers because of the potholed roads. Besides, adding to the woes of the passengers, many buses were stopping its service due to the bad shape of the roads.

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