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Residents plant saplings on Mettupalayam Road

Special Correspondent

Former MP leads protest against poor condition of National Highway



HIGHWAY OR FARM?: Former MP Parvathi Krishnan planting a banana sapling in a pothole as part an agitation in the city on Friday. - Photo: K. Ananthan

COIMBATORE: Led by former Communist Party of India MP, Parvathi Krishnan, residents of layouts along the Mettupalayam Road on Friday planted banana saplings on the National Highway to demand re-laying of the stretch.

The protest was staged near Gnanambigai Mills and the worst among the numerous potholes was chosen for the planting of the saplings. The residents had been waging a battle to have the road repaired as it had taken a heavy toll of lives and vehicles.

A month ago, the residents chose some of the severely damaged spots and put up posters nearby to warn motorists of potholes.

Ms. Krishnan and the others were removed by the police and let off later. But, the protest brought out the plight of thousands of people who used the road every day and also tourists bound for Udhagamandalam.

With the tourist season was just about picking up, repair works would have to begin soon, the people pointed out.

Highways clarifies

The Department of National Highways has clarified that repair works had been planned. These included a Rs.7.28-crore proposal to re-lay the road that is part of the Nagapattinam-Gudalur-Mysore National Highway 67. The stretch that passed through Coimbatore was called Mettupalayam Road.

The letter said patch works had been taken up at a cost of Rs.15 lakhs and were nearing completion. The funds had been sanctioned by the National Highways in New Delhi for maintenance works in 2005-2006, the letter said.

The road was upgraded from a State Highway into a National Highway in December 2004 and taken over by the Department of National Highways in June 2005. And, the letter admitted that no improvement work had been taken up since then as the special repair estimates submitted to higher authorities in New Delhi had not been sanctioned.

The road was taken over by the National Highways Authority of India (that has major national highways and new projects under its control) in September 2005.

The condition worsened because of the rain in October and November last year. The riding surface was damaged as more potholes formed.

Though patchwork was being carried out, the allocated sum of Rs.15 lakhs was inadequate considering the extent of damage and the stretch to be covered and it could help fill only 30 per cent of the potholes. Now, the department had submitted flood relief estimates for Rs.33 lakhs to the NHAI to carry out patchwork over the rest of the road.

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