Pedestrian safety is paramount, says Kerala High Court

Ernakulam District collector directed to submit a report on the steps taken to make footpaths safe
Kerala High Court
Kerala High CourtPhoto| A Sanesh, EPS

KOCHI : Observing that the safety of pedestrians is paramount, the Kerala High Court on Tuesday directed the Ernakulam district collector to submit a report on the steps taken to make footpaths safe. The court issued the order after a woman’s leg got stuck between the slabs of a footpath at Palarivattom in Kochi.

Justice Devan Ramachandran said a city is worth it only if it is capable of being walked upon. “The news about a woman who had a miraculous escape after slipping into an open drain is disturbing. Immediate attention is required as the city is facing possible flooding during heavy rains. The people would not be able to differentiate between road and footpath areas due to the flooding,” he said.

The court said the drains were not only kept open but were constructed in such a perfunctory manner that the people did not know where to step without falling into the abyss of the drainage system.

The Kochi corporation, KMRL, and other stakeholders have a role to play, which the district collector has to ensure in the capacity as the chairperson of the District Disaster Management Authority, the HC said.

The court observed that roads which cannot be accessed by pedestrians cannot even be subscribed to the definition of roads, especially going by international standards.

“To say that pedestrians could not use the road safely is anathema to the principles of urban planning and development. In this century, this is a shame to be noticed in a city like Kochi. The safety of pedestrians must be considered paramount, which alas has also been given a backseat presumably because there is no collective voice,” Justice Devan Ramachandran said.

Though the court had mooted ‘operation footpath’ several months ago, the authorities appeared to have taken it lightly and the suggestion fell on deaf ears.

“When we spoke about roads, we did not just speak about tarmac but also about the pedestrian areas. The pedestrian area is more important because a city is worth it only when it is capable of being walked upon,” the judge said.

On the dilapidated condition of several roads in the city, the court said a bad road is a man-made disaster awaiting tragedies, which need to be avoided.

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