The BTS Road in Edappally resembles a war zone, thanks to the Kerala Water Authority.

The BTS Road in Edappally resembles a war zone, thanks to the Kerala Water Authority (KWA).

This is the third time that the 800-metre-long road is being dug up in the last two years, say residents. The result – the dust emanating from the trenches and portions covered with mud is making their life miserable.

“Numerous residents, especially children and senior citizens are encountering breathing problems and are falling prey to respiratory diseases,” said K. Nandakumar, the president of East BTS Road Residents’ Association.

So much is the dust and slush on the road that the compound wall, roof and frontage of houses have adorned a dark brown shade. People are also getting used to the brown leaves of trees and plants.

“Pedestrians and two-wheelers losing their balance and falling on the road is yet another problem in the thickly-populated area,” said John Vilangadan, a resident.

Priya, a house wife said that her children are getting recurrent bouts of fever and cough because of the all-pervading dust. “I have to clean up the house and its outdoors many times a day, despite keeping the doors and windows closed,” she said.

The KWA had been blamed for the present plight of the road. “The contractor deployed by the agency for laying pipelines along the road under the Kerala Sustainable Urban Development Project is in no mood to complete the works. This is the peak of irresponsibility and the KWA is not bothered about the plight of residents,” said Pius Joseph, the councillor representing the area in Kochi Corporation. “Each day, no more than three or four workers are seen at work sites and this is delaying the laying of pipelines to the adjacent Perumbotta Road.”

He alleged that the contractor has sub-let the pipe laying works to sub contractors. “This irregularity must be probed. Fed up with the delay, residents joined me in laying siege to the work site, following which the work supervisor promised that the dug up portion will be sprinkled with water each day to reduce dust. Even this is not being done,” he said.

Following this, Mayor Tony Chammany and Benny Behanan, MLA visited the area, and gave an assurance to speed up the works and tar-coat the road. But the situation remains as bad as before.

To a question on whether the Corporation was willing to hand over the busy road to the PWD, Mr. Joseph said that this would help improve the quality of resurfacing and also prevent water logging.

Though the Corporation had earmarked Rs 27 lakh in 2010 to repair the road, it was postponed because of successive trenching. “The stretch was earlier dug up twice for the laying of power cables,” said K. K. Gopakumar, another resident.

Among the most distressed by the road’s plight is Padmini, a traffic police warden who has been deputed to divert vehicles from the road’s entry point.

She was seen trying to persuade drivers to use alternative roads. “Some motorists try to force their way through the road and I have to stand on the road’s centre and block their way.” She covered her face with a handkerchief, to escape from the dust.

In the absence of the police during early morning hours, over 100 tipper lorries pass through the road despite heavy vehicles being barred entry through it.

“It is a tough job for a few of us who take turns during morning hours to manage and divert the traffic,” said Premachandran D.

He dreams of seeing a cleaner and better BTS Road in the near future.

Road users also have to brave broken and uneven foot paths along the stretch, a pointer to Kochi Corporation’s ineptitude. The demand to widen the road too has fallen on deaf ears.

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