Pre-monsoon road repairs not done in State, says Kerala Opposition leader

Leader of the Opposition V.D. Satheesan

Leader of the Opposition V.D. Satheesan

Reiterating that potholes abound on roads and highways in the State owing to non-completion of pre-monsoon maintenance works, Leader of the Opposition V.D. Satheesan exhorted Minister for Public Works P.A. Mohamed Riyas to do a stock-taking of what was going on in his department (the PWD), at North Paravur near here on Monday.

Public relations campaigns and words must be supplemented by action at the ground level, he told the media. “Little effort went into pre-monsoon maintenance works, although ₹322 crore was sanctioned as was claimed by the Minister on Sunday. The Minister also used the word ‘fact’ fifteen times, but nothing he said was factual,” he alleged.

It was not that the money was not sanctioned, but that pre-monsoon works were not done anywhere in the State owing to dispute between the road wing and maintenance wing of the PWD on who should do the maintenance. Tenders were delayed by the time the dispute was resolved and the monsoon began. “For instance, a work at Punalur was tendered as late as August 5. The monsoon will take a toll on the State’s roads by the time pre-monsoon tender procedures are completed,” Mr. Satheesan said.

The PWD maintenance wing began functioning only in 2021, although it was formed in 2017-18. There is no point in repairing potholes when it rained. The PWD‘s pre-monsoon tender process is still in progress, including on highways (and bridges) maintained by the PWD (NH wing), he added.

“The Minister is correct in saying that NH repair works from Haripad to Krishnapuram were handed over to the National Highways Authority of India [NHAI] in 2020. But the PWD’s Alappuzha NH Division went on to tender resurfacing of the road from Haripad Madhava Junction to Krishnapuram. Why was this done. Similarly, the PWD [NH wing] tendered the work to repair Bodimet-Kochi NH 85, although it was handed over to the NHAI. So, what does the Minister mean by saying that roads handed over to the NHAI cannot be touched by the PWD?” he asked.

Road construction and maintenance works have been delayed like never before. This is being discussed only after motorists and pedestrians die in pothole-related accidents. The Opposition had warned before the rains that accidents would increase if pre-monsoon repairs were not done, he said and exhorted Mr. Riyas to seek advice from experts and former Minister for Public Works G. Sudhakaran, rather than rely on what officials said.

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Printable version | Aug 26, 2022 7:18:10 am |