Amid the escalating war of words between Public Works Minister P.A. Mohamed Riyas and Leader of Opposition V. D. Satheesan over the poor condition of roads, including National Highways passing through the State, the Public Works Minister decided to meet Minister of Road Transport and Highways Nitin Gadkari to apprise him of the matter.
Addressing the media here in the backdrop of the controversy over the death of a scooter rider along the National Highway at Nedumassery on Friday night, Mr. Riyas said he had once met the Union Minister regarding the repair of the potholed stretches in the State and was ready to meet the Minister, who always takes a favourable stance on the development of roads in Kerala, again along with meeting Union Minister of State for External Affairs V. Muraleedharan to find a solution to the issue.
The National Highway Authority of India (NHAI) has been drawing flak for the pathetic condition of the national highway. The PWD is also ready to extend its help to the NHAI to repair the roads if needed, said Mr. Riyas. However, he criticised the Leader of the Opposition in strong terms for fishing in troubled waters.
Mr. Satheesan had been levelling baseless allegations against the PWD by joining hands with a section of BJP leaders like M. T. Ramesh. He should understand the dignity of the position of an Opposition leader before joining hands with BJP leaders, said Mr. Riyas.
The Leader of the Opposition flayed the PWD after visiting the house of the motorist who was killed in the accident despite knowing that the NHAI takes care of the maintenance of the NH roads in the State. Further, most of the allegations levelled by Mr. Satheesan were without any basis and with a clear motive of misleading the public and protecting the NHAI and Centre government, said Mr. Riyas.
The pre-monsoon maintenance of roads was held as usual in the State, barring some isolated stretches. For the first time in India, a running contract system is being introduced in Kerala with the aim of repairing the roads throughout the year without any break. This is expected to replace the annual pre-monsoon maintenance works, said the Minister. The PWD is also working on a project to upgrade around half of the 30,000 km PWD roads in the state to bitumen macadam and bitumen concrete (BMBC) standards in four years. At present, only 10 percent of the PWD road is built to BMBC standards.