Expressing deep concern over the pathetic condition of roads, the High Court on Thursday observed that liability for road accidents and paying compensation for accidents due to bad condition of roads can be considered in future.
The High Court further directed the state government to file an affidavit detailing the amount earmarked and utilised for development and maintenance of roads across the state.
Issuing the verdict, the High Court asked the state to explain the steps taken to implement the performance guarantee of roads. Justice P R Ramachandra Menon passed the order while considering a petition filed by Shine Joseph of Thattampadi and M K Pratheesh of Koonammavu against the inaction of state government in repairing roads damaged due to monsoon.
“It shall also be made clear why the court shall not constitute a separate body to monitor the appropriation and utilisation of funds for maintenance of roads and why a reasonable extent of the Motor Vehicle tax collected by the state under the relevant provisions of the Kerala Motor Vehicles Taxation Act 1976 shall not be ordered to be earmarked for maintenance of roads”, the court held.
The petitioner, Shine Joseph, who is an auto driver, said he was finding it difficult to earn his livelihood by plying the rickshaw on the roads in Ernakulam as all the roads have become unworthy of travel. The second petitioner Pratheesh, an advocate clerk, was finding it difficult to come to the High Court riding his bike on the damaged roads. According to the petitioners, even though the ministers including the Chief Minister declared that the roads will be repaired at the earliest before the onslaught of monsoon, it has not been done. The roads have become worse and worse, they submitted.
They submitted that accidents and deaths have occurred due to the potholes, which appeared only due to the unscientific methods adopted by the contractors engaged by the government. Potholes haven’t been filled even on roads where toll is being collected, the petitioner pointed out.
As an example, he cited the condition of Kumbalam-Aroor bridge where vehicles get damaged due to bad condition of the road. The same is the case with Kumbalam-Panangad bridge. According to the Road Transport Authority, the toll collected was `10,52,66,365, while the survey report by NATPAC stated that the toll collection was `25,20,44,280, the petition stated. Accidents occur due to damaged roads with the death toll reaching three this week. Many of the bus services were stopped by the bus owners due to bad condition of roads, they said.