More than 15 persons killed and over 200 motorists injured since 1997
TIRUNELVELI: The 7-km-long bypass road connecting Thatchanallur and the Tirunelveli-Nagercoil National Highway through Vannarpettai at Palayamkottai has become the most accident-prone area in the district because of `zero maintenance.'
Though more than 15 persons have been killed and over 200 motorists injured in accidents occurred at this stretch since it was thrown open for traffic in 1997, no effort has so far been taken to make this thoroughfare accident-free.
To reduce the ever-growing traffic congestion caused by lorries and other heavy vehicles around the Tirunelveli Junction, the bypass road was laid and it positively satisfied this objective. When the new bus-stand at Vaeinthankulam was inaugurated, northbound buses can effortlessly reach Thatchanallur on Tirunelveli-Madurai National Highway.
But things became worse when the Tirunelveli Corporation, through a resolution passed in two of its council meetings, refused to bear the maintenance cost of this road and put the burden on the Department of Highways, which also expressed its inability to maintain this stretch.
However, the Department of Highways finally sent a letter to the Corporation saying that it would maintain the road, but the government department has made no effort so far.
After the official machinery and the Tirunelveli Corporation were not in a mood to repair this road even after witnessing several fatal accidents, a girl student, with the help of her uncle, filled the potholes with the roadside blue metal and gravel sand.
Most of the buses coming from Madurai to Tirunelveli and vice versa carefully avoid the south bypass road after 11 p.m. as the drivers, who operate their vehicles at high speed, do not want to put the life of the passengers at risk.
When the matter was raised by people from all walks of life and various associations, the Minister for Industries, Nainar Nagendran, announced in September last that Rs. 2 crore would be allocated for re-laying the entire stretch and the work completed before November 2005.
"However, nothing happened after this announcement. On Friday, a young advocate joined the list of bypass road accident victims. But the district administration and the Department of Highways are yet to act. We'll mobilise the relatives of the victims and other public and stage a road roko on this stretch next week," says the Tirunelveli city secretary of Marumalarchi Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam, K.M.A. Nizam. Meanwhile, a group of advocates have planned to lay siege to the Collectorate on Monday at the grievance day meeting, condemning the death of their colleague.