Municipality blames Public Works Department for sorry state of affairs
The pot-holed road and traffic hold-ups at the narrow and busy Thiruvankulam junction have become a dreadful experience for motorists. The road was re-tarred just about six months ago after the potholes caused quite a few accidents but the heavy rain has reversed the condition of the road. A traffic signal set up at the junction has not been functioning for years.
Thilothama Suresh, vice-chairperson of the Tripunithura Municipal Council and also the representative of Thiruvankulam, said that the municipality has no rights over the roads, which is under the Public Works Department (National Highway) wing. “However, we have talked to the contractor who has been awarded the work for road tarring to do something urgent for filling up the potholes temporarily. Work can be started only after the rains take a break”, she said.
The municipality has been planning to develop the junction for some time, she said. It would require removing electricity posts and a transformer to widen the junction while strengthening certain interior roads like the Temple Road and the Market Road to divert smaller vehicles.
Municipal Chairman R. Venugopal said that talks with Minister for Civil Supplies, Anoop Jacob, who represents the area in Parliament, are being initiated in this regard. However, the municipal authorities are mum on encroachments at the junction that hamper development. In spite of the junction bearing the brunt of heavy traffic coming in from Muvattupuzha, Chottanikkara and Tripunithura for quite some years, no plans have reached the implementation level.
While the residents in the area say that the junction functions better without the signal, the police manning the junction are having a hard time, especially because of the slow pace of the traffic on the potholed road. “It is the condition of the road that is creating a traffic snarl. Some of the holes are more than a foot deep,” said V. P. Suresh, the sub-inspector at the Chottanikkara police station.
The traffic signal was ineffective and that is why perhaps it was never repaired when it stopped functioning, said the SI.
Nidheesh R., a software entrepreneur and resident of Thiruvankulam, said that the road is not only a nightmare for the motorists, but also for the pedestrians. It takes long time to just cross the road, he added. Unless the junction gets a bypass, the 90-degree turn at the congested junction will continue to be a problem.
The residents had almost given up hope of the NH 49 for which survey stones indicating the route were laid about eight years ago, said Mr. Nidheesh. A road that would take much of the traffic to the Tripunithura mini bypass without touching Thiruvankulam would have been ideal, he said. However, a senior official at the PWD (NH) wing told The Hindu that the NH project connecting to the mini bypass in Tripunithura is still alive. “We have sent five proposals as recent as three months ago that need to be approved by the Union Ministry”, the official said.
The proposed Bund Road that would connect Mamala to Seaport-Airport road via Chithrapuzha is perhaps a hope for Thiruvankulam residents that would reduce the traffic at the junction. The municipality has earmarked Rs. 50 lakh to begin the work on Bund Road in the current budget.