The State government allocates crores of rupees periodically for road upgrading work in the district, but little improvement is seen in their condition.
Local bodies complain that they have little role in the upkeep of their roads as the government directly allots funds to the Public Works Department.
“Earlier we had a special fund for road upgrading. But this government started directly allocating funds to the Public Works Department. Now, though funds are allocated, we see almost no change in the condition of rural roads,” said K. Jameela, president, district panchayat.
The Disaster Management Department had recently allotted Rs.2.45 crore to the PWD for 38 works spread across various grama panchayats and the Vadakara and Koyilandy municipalities. Some of these works are in high-range areas such as Thamarassery, Thiruvambady, Koodaranji, Kodencheri and Kunnamangalam. Other works span across Onchiyam, Peruvayal, and Moodadi, among other panchayats in the district.
With rural roads in many panchayats in bad shape, Ms. Jameela said the district panchayat was forced to take up the job on their behalf.
“Road works estimated between Rs.30 lakh and Rs.1 crore are taken up by the district panchayat. We keep aside 40 per cent of our Plan fund for contingencies like this,” she said. The situation in Corporation areas is no different.
“We used to have a disaster management unit. But it was closed due to lack of funds,” M. Mohanan, Public Works Standing Committee chairperson, Kozhikode Corporation, said. In the coastal areas, road work often gets delayed even after the government sanctioned funds. The Fisheries Department had allotted Rs.47.40 lakh to improve the Katchery-Naduthuruthy Palam road in the coastal panchayat of Thalakulathur in July 2013. The standing instruction in the government order to the Harbour Engineering Department was to complete the work within the year. But Thalakulathur panchayat authorities said the work was yet to start. This allotment had followed an earlier release of Rs.2.16 crore to upgrade seven arterial roads on the district’s coastline on May 16 and 17, last year.
“This direct allotment of funds for road works with hardly any result on the ground is an obstruction to the Panchayati Raj model of governance,” Ms. Jameela said.