NHAI was brought to book by the Madras High Court particularly over the stretch between Maduravoyal and Walajapet
Bad roads seem to be the bane all across India. Despite collecting high toll taxes, the roads continue to be in a state of ill repair leaving road users fretting and fuming at the Government’s apathy.
In one particular case, and there should be many more like this all across the country, the National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) has been pulled up by the Madras High Court for the state of the highways in the region, particularly so between Maduravoyal and Walajapet near Chennai.
Not only were these roads in a pitiable condition but a lady doctor and her daughter slipped into an open drain built by NHAI. With regard to the collection of toll fee, the Madras HC, chaired by Justice M Sathyanarayanan and Justice R Hemalatha has directed NHAI to only collect half of the regular toll at these two plazas.
They stated that they are being benevolent towards NHAI for even allowing them to collect these 50 percent fees and under regular circumstances it should be banned from collecting any toll till the stretch of road is repaired. The judges at the hearing stated that NHAI should hang its head in shame, for laying such bad roads in the country.
Death by Drain
On December 7, 2020, a doctor Dr Carolin Priscilla of Ayanambakkam and her daughter Evelyn who is a student of architecture, lost their lives as their car fell into an open storm water drain. The trench was dug by the NHAI and was left open without any warning to alert passersby.
This incident has been titled ‘Death by Drain’ in a Times of India report on December 8. The Madras HC judges that there was no headway on NHAI’s 2018 proposal to cover open drains along the highway.
Citing this as a ‘monumental example of a bad road’, the Bench has passed orders on a suo motu PIL initiated not only due to the bad condition of the national highway between Maduravoyal and Walajapet but also due to poor maintenance. NHAI was questioned as to why they should not be providing compensation to the family for these deaths.
Unscientific Filling of Potholes
The Judges noted the condition of the roads via pictures made available and noted that only temporary measures were undertaken to fill the potholes which was done in an unscientific manner and which would not even last through a year. They pointed out to the NHAI that they were not able to lay proper roads even after 70+ years of Independence.
The Chennai-Bangalore highway at the Nazarathpet Junction has about 520 accident spots and 560 black spots out of which only 23 have been repaired. This was despite the fact that the Assistant Solicitor General of India G Karthikeyan has stated that Rs.50 crores had been allotted for the complete relaying of this stretch of road, prior to which the potholes should be filled in 10 days so as to avoid any further mishap. The Court was adjourned till December 21 for NHAI to report compliance to these conditions.