On the side of the rain-drenched and accident-prone Kannur Road, a solar-powered traffic light bites the dust.
It has been over three weeks since the light fell on its face. The light, one of a pair, is situated outside the main and only entrance of the Nadakkavu Government Girls High School and Vocational Higher Secondary School where 2,412 students study.
The light is exclusively meant to chaperone the school’s students crossing the narrow and maddeningly busy stretch, a part of National Highway 17 leading to Kannur district.
When The Hindu contacted officials, they sounded befuddled, passing responsibility from one department to the other. The Nadakkavu Police Station is next door to the fallen light. So is the office of the Additional Director-General of Police, North Zone.
The post, which once supported the light, looks kicked in. Its twisted solar panel gapes up to the pouring sky. But the traffic light unfailingly follows its programmed routine - its face pressed to the pavement, it blinks red during school hours and yellow during the lonesome hours of the road.
The school’s authorities, concerned about the safety of the students while crossing the road, are clueless about whom to approach.
“In the first place, we did not receive any communication when this light was fixed. Now, we do not know whom to inform. Again, why should we inform at all? For three weeks, the light has been lying there for everyone to see. The case may be of one traffic light, but it reflects on how things are run in the city,” said Jelush K., who is principal of the vocational higher secondary section of the school.
When contacted, Nadakkavu ward councillor Arangil Kamala Reghunath, denied any responsibility, saying the “Corporation is only in charge of sodium streetlights and not solar-powered traffic lights”.
Asked whether as a councillor she had taken any steps to at least notify authorities about the precarious situation faced by students when crossing, Ms. Reghunath claims she had talked to the principal.
Pradeep Kumar, MLA (Kozhikode North), said the situation reflects “heights of irresponsibility”.
But he remained vague about the department in charge.
“Since the light is located beside a national highway, the Public Works Department (PWD) must be responsible,” he said.
However, when contacted, the office of the PWD Superintending Engineer, National Highway Division, said they had no role whatsoever.
“We did not keep that light. Our permission was not even sought when it was fixed,” they informed.
Finally it fell upon K.A. Bose, Circle Inspector, City Traffic, to offer an explanation.
“I believe the light fell because it could not bear the weight of the solar panel and equipment at the top. We have asked Keltron, which fixes and maintains all traffic lights in the city, to repair it immediately,” Mr. Babu said.