Kerala Kaumudi Online
Wednesday, 05 October 2022 9.48 PM IST

Sudhakaran would stop the car and get off if he sees any big potholes on roads, says an engineer about former PWD Minister


Are there national and state potholes in the state roads? Our rulers and politicians say that there are. The classification is made for the potholes in the national highways and the state roads. Do people who travel on bumpy roads every day need to know whose pothole it is? They only have one request. Don’t let us fall into these holes. To travel without falling into the potholes and getting hurt is the common man’s right!

Almost all the national highways and the state roads are in dilapidated conditions across Kerala. Soon after Muhammad Riyas took over as the Public Works Department Minister of the state, he announced that wherever the road is damaged, immediate action will be taken. Phone-in programmes to hear people’s complaints were also organized in the regard. However, things took an adverse turn with the advent of the monsoon. In heavy rains, roads got flooded with water turning the potholes into death traps.

It was Minister Muhammad Riyas who initially classified the potholes as national and state owned ones. The arguments got ugly once opposition leader V D Satheesan and Union Minister V Muraleedharan intervened into the matter. All the leaders began to blame one another and the issue continues to remain unsolved till date.

What an engineer in the national highway said about former Public Works Minister G Sudhakaran is relevant here. If he sees big potholes anywhere on the road during the journey, the minister will stop the car and call the concerned officer. The minister's intervention was without considering any distinction between national and state highways.

High Court’s directive

The Kerala High Court strongly criticized the government while hearing a plea, which sought the court's intervention as the administrators are not able to solve the bad condition of the roads in Kerala. The high court had served an ultimatum to the national highway authority to fix the potholes within a week. The court also pointed out that there is no such situation anywhere else in India. However, complaints have already been raised about the unscientific method of fixing the holes on roads, following the order.

NHAI maintains 1233.50 kms

The overall length of the roads in Kerala is 2,38,773. 02 km. The length of 11 national highways in the state is 1,781.50 km. Of this, the National Highway Department of State Public Works maintains 548 km and the National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) maintains 1,233.50 km.

There is a strong allegation that corruption in the Public Works Department and the NHAI is the reason for the collapse of the roads despite spending huge amounts of money. The illegal ties between the contractors and the officials are a reason for the current scenario. Earlier, the CBI had found a fraud of Rs 102 crores in the Mannuthy-Angamaly national highway. Even after a charge sheet was filed in the regard, the prosecution has not yet received permission to try the concerned officers of the NHAI.

Technology is still afar

The major drawback is that despite the technological advances, modern technology to cope with heavy monsoons have not been adopted for the construction of roads in Kerala. Many foreign countries with heavier rains than here have mirror-like roads. Earlier, a Rs 200 crore agreement was signed between the Public Works Department and the Coir Corporation to use coir soil for the construction of public works roads in the state. However, the project continues to remain standstill.

Vehicle owners suspect that the government, which collects 15 years of road tax in advance from every vehicle owner in Kerala, regardless of whether it is a national highway or a state highway, are they not responsible for ensuring better quality of roads? In addition, toll collection is prevalent in national highways too. Yet, the ministers and politicians are trying to fool the people by classifying the roads and blaming one another.

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