Kerala

Bad roads dominate political debate in Kerala

Potholes on the national highway at Puthukkad being filled. Local people allege that such piecemeal work is not effective as the cracks on the road will reopen in one rain.

Potholes on the national highway at Puthukkad being filled. Local people allege that such piecemeal work is not effective as the cracks on the road will reopen in one rain. | Photo Credit: K.K. NAJEEB

The poor condition of roads is dominating the political debate in Kerala. For one, citizens have taken to social media in strength to bemoan the plight of pedestrians and motorists plagued by potholed roads and wrecked pavements.

Taxpayers are flooding the Internet with memes lampooning the National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) and the Public Works department (PWD), the two agencies responsible for road upkeep.

Protests

Real-life protests are also grabbing public attention. Photographs of citizens dropping fishing lines into potholes have gone viral. Residents are using foliage to indicate dangerous potholes to unsuspecting pedestrians and drivers. Two youths staged a bath in a deep pothole on a road at Pandikkad in Malappuram district.

On Monday, the State police booked NHAI authorities for criminal negligence that allegedly resulted in the death of a two-wheeler rider, Hashim, after his scooter fell into a pothole near Nedumbassery, near Kochi.

The issue reignited on Tuesday after television news channels showed NHAI contract workers emptying a bag of asphalt into a deep pothole on the busy Ernakulam-Thrissur segment. They tamped down the pitch with a shovel.

The High Court had on Monday directed the authorities to repair damaged roads within a week and District Collectors to ensure compliance with the order.

 Potholes on the national highway stretch between Kundannur and Edappally in Kochi.

Potholes on the national highway stretch between Kundannur and Edappally in Kochi. | Photo Credit: THULASI KAKKAT

Thrissur Collector Haritha V. Kumar found the work wanting. She said it lacked technical supervision and hurried cold-mix tarring did not guarantee a solution without compaction.

War of words

Meanwhile, the debate spilled onto the political realm and seemed to take a personal turn. Leader of the Opposition V. D. Satheesan said chronic mismanagement, entrenched corruption, bureaucratic red tape and criminal neglect had turned roads into deathtraps. Internal feuding in the PWD and zero coordination with the NHAI caused the crisis.

Public Works Minister P.A. Mohamed Riyas hit back: “Potholes are in Mr. Satheesan’s mind”. The brutal monsoons and the NHAI’s insistence that it would undertake road repairs only after completing the under-construction sections had precipitated the situation. Kerala has 3 lakh km of roads, of which the PWD maintained only under 30,000 km.

Minister of State for External Affairs for V. Muraleedharan said he would flag the issue with the Union Ministry of Road Transport and Highways.


Our code of editorial values

  1. Comments will be moderated by The Hindu editorial team.
  2. Comments that are abusive, personal, incendiary or irrelevant cannot be published.
  3. Please write complete sentences. Do not type comments in all capital letters, or in all lower case letters, or using abbreviated text. (example: u cannot substitute for you, d is not 'the', n is not 'and').
  4. We may remove hyperlinks within comments.
  5. Please use a genuine email ID and provide your name, to avoid rejection.

Printable version | Aug 16, 2022 11:52:13 pm | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/kerala/bad-roads-dominate-political-debate-in-kerala/article65750773.ece