Special Correspondent

`The entire revenue was not being utilised for proper maintenance of roads'

Udhagamandalam: The Coonoor Citizens Forum has demanded a White Paper on the manner in which the revenue earned through the implementation of the Toll Funds Scheme was being utilised.

In a letter sent to the State Government, the secretary of the Forum, M.P.G. Nambisan, pointed out that about 14 years ago the Toll Funds Scheme was introduced in the Nilgiris to generate funds for regular maintenance of roads. Unfortunately, though the scheme augmented the earnings of the district considerably, the entire revenue was not utilised for taking care of the roads, he claimed and added that consequently, most of the roads were now in a deplorable condition. A White Paper on the scheme should be brought out and it should contain inter alia details pertaining to the amount collected since its inception and the amount spent on maintaining roads and the names of the roads.

Adverting to the Coimbatore - Gudalur Road, which had recently become part of the National Highway network, he said that it had never been as bad as it was now. Though Ooty was being promoted as an international tourist centre, the condition of highway was anything but tourism-friendly.

Consequently, the visitors would think twice before coming here again, he feared. He regretted that even patch works were not being done. Though the distance between Coonoor and Ooty was only about 17 km, it took about 90 minutes to cover the distance on account of the huge potholes. The chances of accidents occurring were also high.

Pointing out that the common man was in a state of confusion because the State Government was collecting toll though the road was a highway, Mr. Nambisan said, "if it is repaired and maintained properly, it does not make a difference to the public whether it comes under the control of the State or the Central Government."

He hoped that the State Government would treat the Nilgiris as a special case and allot funds for repair of roads.