Take a ride through some of the stretches of the arterial National Highway-47 passing through the district. You will need tremendous amount of luck to reach your destination without breaking your bones or the parts of your vehicle. The roads are in such terrible state of disrepair that makes even walking risky. Maintenance done frequently does not even last for a day due to the substandard quality of work. Lakhs and crores of rupees spent for the purpose goes down the drain.
Traffic snarls as vehicles slow down to avoid potholes and pits all along, including junctions. Some run into them straightaway resulting in serious accidents.
The 95-km stretch from Aroor to Oachira is highly accident-prone as there are several death-traps on the way. Around 177 accidents occurred on the NH 47 in August this year, according to the statistics available with the District Crime Records Bureau (DCRB).
Twenty-six people lost their lives and 170 people suffered injuries. The main reason was the failure of the NH authorities to repair the road. Ministers and officials of the works department promise to fill the trenches and the potholes often. But several months pass and the condition of the road only worsens.
Union Minister of State for Power and Alappuzha MP K C Venugopal had directed the NH officials a month ago to repair the road. But no action has been taken yet. Following his request, Works Minister V K Ibrahim Kunju sanctioned `2.06 crore. “But the repair work is moving at a snail’s pace,’’ said Manoj, a resident of Karuvatta.
“The NH authorities have started filling the potholes near Kayamkulam. The tarring work is very slow. If it progresses at the present speed, it will take another season to complete the filling work,’’ said Manoj.
The NH remains dangerous at Cherthala, Thiruvizha, Alappuzha town area, Punnapra, Alappuzha Medical College Hospital Junction, Ambalappuzha, Thottappally, Haripad, Karuvatta and other regions. Mainly two-wheeler riders meet with accidents due to the potholes.
Though periodical repair is done on the road, the repaired portion gets damaged, but the contractor gets away with low quality work. Proper supervision by the officials is rare.
Venugopal told a meeting held at the Alappuzha district collectorate recently that the NH authorities had spent `40 crore for the repair of the NH in the last three years. But the condition had not improved. He has requested the Union Minister of Surface Transport and the Kerala Works Minister to conduct an inquiry into the repair carried out in the district.
The NH officials said that they had already sought from the Union Government Rs 22 crore for conducting the re-tarring work of the NH stretches from Pathirapally to Karoor (22 km) and from Karuvatta to Haripad Madhava Junction (6 km).
Last year, the PWD NH division spent around Rs 94 lakh for the repair of the NH during the rainy season. It also spent Rs 10 crore for the re-tarring work of the stretch from Cherthala to Aroor (20 km) in 2011.
Ibrahim Kunju said that the state government had allotted Rs 15.78 crore for the renovation of NH in Alappuzha district. ‘’The stretch from Cherthala to Karunagappally was the worst on the NH. No repair had been carried out there for the last nine years.
The 18-km road from Krishnapuram to Harippad is unmotorable. A sum of Rs 13.72 crore has been sanctioned for the renovation work on this stretch. An amount of Rs 2.06 crore has been sanctioned for the repair of the stretch from Haripad to Cherthala.
‘‘The State Government had asked the Central Government to allot Rs 21.1 crore to renovate the NH from Harippad to Karuvatta and Purakkad to Pathirapally,’’ the minister said.
According to some passengers, the government was collecting crores of rupees in the name of road cess, tax and toll. But the officials and the contractors pocketed most of the funds, they said.