Staff Reporter

129 persons killed in six months

Do not blame just the monsoon, say police

Irate public confines Collector after a recent accident

ALAPPUZHA: The 95-kilometre stretch of the National Highway 47 passing through the district continues to be a deathtrap as Saturday’s tragic accident that claimed the life of a four-member family near Vandanam shows.

However, the reality is now going beyond statistics that put the number of accident deaths on this stretch at 129 in just six months from January to June. Public ire has shot up to a level that locals confined the district’s top Government official – District Magistrate and Collector V.K. Balakrishnan – for over an hour after the accident on Saturday night. It was only after a lathi charge that the police could release Mr. Balakrishnan.

Police officials, while admitting that regular accidents are now threatening to disturb the law and order situation, say they are helpless to an extent. “Unless the road is repaired, there is little anybody can do. Saturday’s accident, according to eyewitnesses, occurred when a mini-van, trying to avoid a pothole, rammed into a car. Most accidents on NH-47 have similar reasons,” a senior police official told TheHindu.

The monsoon, he points out, has little to do with the delay in regular maintenance of the road. “Even before the monsoon there were several fatal accidents. Less than 10 of the 105 fatal accidents in six months this year occurred during the monsoon,” he adds.

To prove the point, he cites the April 30 accident at Kariyilakulangara in which four members of a family were killed. On May 13, three members of a family including two children were killed in another car accident near Cherthala. On May 16, two youngsters were killed in a two-wheeler accident at Vandanam.

In fact, the two-wheeler accident had prompted Minister G. Sudhakaran, who hails from the district, to issue directions to identify accident-prone districts on the NH-47. During a recent meeting at the Collectorate, the Minister again raised the issue and pointed out that road repairs too had to be carried out immediately. Both instructions have had no takers.

After the Collector was held up, minor repair works were carried out at the accident spot. By Monday, the condition of the road was back to square one, courtesy the quality of work and rain.