Tragic death of youth fuels struggle for road to colony

Tragic death of youth fuels struggle for road to colony
Volunteers under the leadership of local political activists construct a 200–metre concrete road from Posolige on the Nattakkal–Basti road to the colony.

Kasaragod: A local strife for a proper road to a colony, named Posolige, succeeded after initial hiccups, legal spat and the death of a youth. The locals struggle for a clear path ended successfully when volunteers under the leadership of local political activists constructed a 200–metre concrete road from Posolige on the Nattakkal–Basti road to the colony on September 30.

The CPM local unit decided to lay the road after a meeting attended by officials came to the conclusion that the road was on panchayat land. Hundreds of volunteers reached the spot from early morning for the work. An earthmover was used to level the stretch before concrete was laid. 

P Karunakaran, MP, and N A Nellikkunnu, MLA, have promised money from their development funds to tar the stretch over which no dispute exists.

Disputed section

The Posolige Colony, which has about 70 scheduled caste families, is about 500 m from the Nattakkal–Basti road in Kasaragod district. The issue involved a 150 m of the path to the colony that passed through a private plot.   

The road belongs to the panchayat as per records and the colony residents have been using it for years. However, the owner of the plot raised objections when there was a plan to improve it. With no maintenance being carried out for years, the road became riddled with potholes. This caused much inconvenience to the residents of the colony, even forcing them to carry sick people to hospital on their shoulders.

The issue reached a flashpoint on October 25, 2017, when a youth named Ravi died of a snake bite after he did not receive timely treatment. The society also became aware of the plight of the colony residents after Ravi’s death. He was bitten by a snake around 6 pm, but with no vehicles willing to travel along the road to the colony, he could be taken to hospital only by 8 pm. Much time was lost and Ravi’s life could not be saved.

Courts come to the rescue

Though a people’s stir was launched demanding a proper road, it lost vigour midway after the land owner approached the Munsiff court. He told the court that the stretch was only a pedestrian path. However, the court, ordering a status quo, allowed the colony residents to continue using the road.

The court also observed that the land owner’s intention was suspect. Following which, the land owner moved the Kerala High Court seeking a ban on travel by the colony residents through the road. But the High Court upheld the lower court’s order. The High Court said that the land could be retained without denying the colony residents their right of way.

Posolige struggle: A timeline

October 25, 2017: Ravi, a youth bitten by a snake, dies after delay in availing treatment.

November 4, 2017: Malayala Manorama publishes a report  stating that the body of Mathadi, a party in a case registered over the issue, was carried on shoulders along the dilapidated road. 

May 6, 2018: A people’s organisation formed to conduct a stir for the road.

June 26: The body of Seethu, an elderly person, carried by the residents.

June 27: The then District Collector K Jeevan Babu visits the spot. Also hold discussions with the land owner.

June 30: The people’s organisation takes out a march to Belloor panchayat.

July 13: ADM convenes first meeting over the issue. No decision taken as land owner does not attend.

July 19: The agitators take out a march to the Collectorate.

July 29: P Karunakaran, MP, visits colony. Memorandum submitted to the Collector under the leadership of panchayat president M Latha.

August 1: Panchayat holds special meeting and passes a resolution demanding the road.

August 2: Another meeting convened by ADM. Election deputy collector K Ramendran asked to file report on the issue.

August 6: District administration seeks legal opinion from the district government pleader

August 10: ADM N Devidas meets the land owner and holds talks. But there is no progress.

August 13: Govt. pleader says no legal opinion can be given as the matter is before the court. He advises approaching the Legal Department.

August 14: ADM writes to Secretary of Legal department seeking his opinion.

September 24: A meeting attended by ADM and deputy director of panchayats announces that there are no legal hurdles to developing the road as it is included in the asset register of the panchayat.

September 30: A 200-m stretch of the road is concretised under the leadership of CPM Belloor local committee.

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