The Kerala High Court on Thursday said it was “exasperating” and “a real tragedy” that after every rain in the state, the roads fall into disrepair and only after they are rendered completely non-motorable do the authorities step in to make repairs. However, the repairs are unable to stand the test of the next rain and the roads require patchwork again, Justice Devan Ramachandran remarked.
“Instead of repairing a pothole, you are having to repair the entire road. If the engineers cannot make or repair roads so that they can withstand the monsoons, then ask them to resign and go. There are a lot of other engineers who are available to take their place,” the court said. “After every monsoon, complaints of bad roads in the state start to come. It is a real tragedy. What is more exasperating is the situation that repaired roads too fall apart after a short span,” the court added.
The court said that authorities should build or repair roads in a manner they are usable for a longer period of time and added “a stitch in time saves nine”. “The country and the citizens cannot afford carrying out repairs every six months or a year, which appears to be the case,” it said.
“Don’t merely repair them, avoid their destruction,” it added. It said that the engineers and the authorities responsible for maintaining roads should periodically inspect them and make corrections where required.
However, in reality they only step in after the roads fall apart and someone loses a life as a result, it added. The court also said that its directions issued in 2018, with regard to maintenance of roads and fixing the responsibility for it on the concerned engineers and local self government institutions, “appear to have been forgotten”.
“The court cannot allow administrators to be forgetful and it will take steps to remind them of their constitutional and statutory duties,” it said. It directed the authorities responsible for maintaining roads in the state “to immediately take stock of various roads in Kerala and take measures to ensure they are in good condition” and that they are maintained in that manner for a longer period of time.
The observations and directions of the court came while hearing two petitions with regard to poor state of roads, lack of proper street lighting, hanging cables and illegal parking on pavements in Kochi city.