‘We are told that the road will be restored in summer,’ Muralidharan, who runs a bakery.‘Loose metal flies out from under vehicles and hits people,’ Sarala, who works at a shop.
The story of the Alinchuvadu-Thykkavu Road is similar to that of so many others in the city, and so are the woes of the people. A road was dug up on the promise of water, and while the road has disappeared, the wait is still on for the water.
Residents along a two-km stretch of the Alinchuvadu-Thykkavu Road, which runs parallel to the National Highway, have been living along a dust track for more than seven months.
The perfectly laid road was dug up for laying pipelines for drinking water supply as part of the Kerala Sustainable Urban Development Project. The residents were told that their inconvenience for a short period would bring water to the people of neighbouring Vennala region. That short period without a proper road has now stretched to months.
The situation is no different on the stretch between Thykkavu and Chalikkavattom and other roads through which the project passes.
K.K. Muralidharan, who runs a bakery at Lenin Centre, fumes at the perceived apathy of civic authorities towards the plight of people like him. Dust sweeps in to his shop every time a vehicle passes by. “Now we are being told that the road will be restored in summer. While they promised to bring drinking water to more people, many areas that already had water have been hit due to pipes bursting while digging up the road,” he said.
Sarala Venu, who works at a private mobile handset shop, carefully eyes the unevenly laid metal on the road while waiting for a bus. Incidents of metal flying off from under vehicle tyres and hitting bystanders and nearby shops are common here.
“What can you say about a situation where people are not even safe waiting for a bus? Where is the division councillor?” she asks.
While admitting that the contractor should have restored the road months ago, C.D. Valsalakumari, the division councillor, cited multiple reasons for the delay. “The work was stalled with the onset of rain. People’s protest against laying the pipeline in some stretches and recurring pipe bursts also prolonged the work,” she said.
K.P. Babu, the contractor for the work, said that road restoration works have started from the Chalikkavattom region. “As for the stretch between Lenin Centre and Thykkavu, a hydrostatic pressure test was conducted on the pipelines and after a month-long settling period, metal was laid. Then it rained and we cannot tar the road when there is moisture. We expect to complete the restoration within a week if rain stays away,” he said.
Meanwhile, the sales of small traders in the area have taken a hit. “Who’s going to sit here when you have dust on your food and mouth all the time,” said Sreedharan Nair, who runs a tea shop near the Vennala post office, pointing at his empty shop.
While the residents continue to wait for the road to be restored, the completion of the project is still uncertain. “The National Highways Authority of India should give its nod for laying a pipeline along the Thammanam-Ponnurinni stretch that passes under the Highway,” said Ms. Valsalakumari.