The Kerala High Court on Monday directed the National Highway Authority of India (NHAI) to immediately complete the repair works of the roads in the state under it within one week. Justice Devan Ramachandran who was hearing a case taken up by the court on its own over the potholes on national highways, directed the District Collectors to act proactively in the matters of poor roads in their districts.
The High Court took up the case on its own after a recent incident in which a man riding a scooter lost his life when his bike fell into a pothole at Nedumbassery near here.
“We cannot let people die like this. What are the district collectors doing? They cannot be mere spectators. They should be more proactive and look into the issue of roads, be it under the NHAI, the state government or even the local roads,” the court said.
The court said the District Collectors have a responsibility under the Disaster Management Act as the head of the District Disaster Management Authority.
Meanwhile, the NHAI told the court that it was initiating steps to repair the roads on a war- footing.
The court observed that one could imagine what would happen if there are potholes on a four-lane road where the speed limit is 90 kmph. The court directed the NHAI to complete the repair works within one week.
The state government in the meanwhile, informed the court that a case has been registered against the contractor in the incident in which the Paravoor native lost his life.
Hashim (52), a Paravoor native, died on Friday after he lost balance while negotiating a pothole along the national highway near Angamaly-Edapally stretch. He was run over by a lorry after he fell from his scooter.
Following his death, the opposition Congress lashed out at the state government saying it failed to conduct the pre-monsoon works this year resulting in bad roads.
Leader of Opposition, V D Satheesan on Monday said there is no clarity of division of work among the road and maintenance departments of the PWD.
“The central government is also responsible for the potholes on National Highways. That is why we are demanding to stop the collection of toll along the NHs in the state,” Satheesan said.
State PWD minister P A Mohammed Riyas, however, said that the PWD cannot interfere in the works on the national highways.
“We have registered a case against the contractors who violated the contracts and the law. The union government must black-list such contractors,” Riyas said.
The court posted the matter for further hearing on August 19.