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Drinking water project sinks road

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Tough tread: The plight of the Mankavu -Patheerankavau road.
Tough tread: The plight of the Mankavu -Patheerankavau road.

Jabir Mushthari

Kozhikode: The reality of daily commuting for thousands on the Mankavu-Pantheerankavu road, one of the major arterial roads in the city, have become a dust and dirt-ridden nightmare for the last one year now, thanks to the Japan Bank for International Cooperation (JBIC)-aided drinking water project.

Pedestrians, vehicle owners, commuters and bus operators, all are equally tired either by the all-pervading dust or by the overnight swamp and quagmire caused by the recurring pipe bursts or the caving-in of roads at worksites, besides the accidents, breakdowns and never-ending blocks owing to the wretched state of the road.

Digging and trenching works for laying conduits for the drinking water project and the recurring rupture of pipes have “completely ruined” the Mankavu-Pantheerankavu road.

Tens of thousands of commuters and local people are cursing a system that has callously put their life in acute misery “without any planning or care” for life while implementing a project.

“It has been a year now and the dragging works have made our life hell and no authorities seem to care about it,” says V.P. Vinod, a resident.

“Life has become miserable for us and none seem to care,” says Swarnam Rajan, a housewife at Kaduppini.

Some residents also complain of the perpetual dust causing health problems to children and grownups alike. Jyothiprakash, a resident of Pantheerankavu, said that the ubiquitous dust had triggered a spell of asthma in him recently.

The local people had tried out all democratic means of protest.

They called for hartals, tried bandhs and held strikes at different places and the authorities only kept on the blame game between water authorities and the Public Works Department.

Big pits and trenches continue to make the road a complete mess. “Let alone biking, one cannot even walk on this road without risking their life,” says Prakash, a daily commuter.

It had taken a toll on merchants and shoppers

“Sometimes, I cannot identify my shop and my parked bike will have accumulated loads of dust and people are utterly frustrated about this,” says Vinod, a ration shop dealer at Kulangarapeedika. “Business on the 6-km stretch of the road has been affected badly, he said.

When contacted, the project director’s office of the JBIC drinking water scheme told The Hindu that the JBIC had already handed over many of the stretches to the PWD after finishing the pipe-laying work months ago.

“The delay is with the PWD, though we also have some more stretches to complete,” said project director B. Malathi. And the PWD sources also had their excuse, “monsoon.”

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