A 5.5 km-long road in the island has been in a dilapidated state for more than a decade
Sanam P. Thoppil, an anganwadi teacher in Mulavukad panchayat, says a silent prayer every time she takes her two-wheeler out.
Ever since she was thrown off her vehicle during a ride through the panchayat’s bumpy and pot-holed road, giving her a backache as a constant companion, she has realised that only divine intervention will make sure she gets back home in one piece.
“The hardships faced by the people here, especially women, every day because of the condition of the road are beyond words. Most of them work as domestic helps in multiple households and for them to complete the work they need to start out as early as 7 a.m. But thanks to the lack of transportation facilities, they barely manage it,” said Ms. Sanam. She said many households in the panchayat face the newly-laid Vallarpadam Container Terminal Road, but cannot access it either due to the lack of an approach road or a bridge over a water body separates them from the road.
The 5.5 km-long road that winds through the heart of the panchayat, placed right next to the city, has been in a dilapidated condition for more than one decade.
Such is the state of the road that all the 13 private buses in the panchayat stopped operating services with the last one winding up operations three months ago.
At present, only one KSRTC service operates on this route.
Autorickshaw drivers often refuse to ferry people to the panchayat.
On occasions when they choose to oblige, passengers are charged anywhere between Rs.100 and Rs.200 for the hardly six km-long ride from High Court Junction.
The look on the face of the people on the mere mention of the road tells their tale of woe.
Radha P.S., an ICDS supervisor in Mulavukad, has no difficulty in reaching High Court Junction from her house in Alappuzha. But the short trip from the junction to the panchayat is always a struggle. “No matter how early I reach High Court Junction very rarely do I manage to reach in time for a meeting or an assignment,” she says.
Shyam Satheeshan, a Diploma of Computer Application student from the panchayat, is often at the mercy of the motorists passing through the Container Terminal Road as he often hitch-hikes his way to and from the institute.
“I never invite my friends home because of the difficulty in getting here,” he says. In fact, the sight of people ranging from students to senior citizens seeking a ride from motorists passing by is common here.
Panchayat president A.K. Dinakaran said both administrative and public apathy are to be blamed for the sorry condition of the road for the past 12 years. Though the disagreement over compensation has been sorted out, the technical issue of receiving only a single tender for the first phase work of the 2.5 km-stretch has now hindered the road development project.
The quoted price in the tender exceeded the estimate for the first phase work of Rs. 1.50 crore by 63 lakh. Now the panchayat is awaiting a sanction from the Cabinet sub-committee for completing the tender formalities.
“But the question is what is the need for a Cabinet approval for undertaking the road development work using the GIDA (Goshree Islands Development Authority) funds meant for the development of the islands, when the chief minister is its chairman,” asks Mr. Dinakaran.