Pathanamthitta: The Sabarimala season, which sees millions of devotees undertaking the pilgrimage, is just a fortnight away. During the previous years, preparations were carried out much before the season began in the district. This year, with the aftereffects of the floods, the protests over the entry of women of all ages to the temple and the government’s efforts in readying the police for any eventuality, the arrangements for the pilgrimage have taken the back seat. It has come to such a pass that nobody is interested in the proper upkeep of the vital roads leading to the hill temple.
In case of roads, the public works minister usually visits at least twice to inspect the repair works. This time, the minister has not turned up even once, and most roads are in a shambles.
17 prime roads
Seventeen roads bound for the pilgrim centre are on the list approved by the high court. Out of this, except two roads, all other stretches are in the Pathanamthitta district. Though Rs 57 crore has been allotted for filling the potholes, no full-fledged repair is taking place anywhere. But in many places even potholes are not being covered. The Public Works Department (PWD) had invited bids for 106 works related to the pilgrimage; most of them are yet to be taken over by the contractors.
This is the main road to Sabarimala. And, this is the most damaged one. The sides of the road gave in during recent floods and are in a precarious condition. By the time the temple will be opened, the sides could be fixed but potholes won't be attended to. From Vadasserikkara to Madaman, the contractor had started the works r on his own but stopped later.
The is the traditional 'thiruvabharam' route where the annual procession carrying the sacred ornaments of Lord Ayyappa passes through. The 9-km stretch was measured and demarcated after an assurance by Raju Abraham, MLA, to develop the road. However, nothing has been done over the last three years. Local residents twice announced protests
but retracted when the MLA told them that the detailed project report has been submitted to the government and the approval should come soon. Now, there is no talk about the project. To placate the local residents, the potholes have been covered.
Athikkayam Bridge-Poovathumoodu road
This road too is in a bad condition. It was dug up in the middle for laying the pipeline for the Perunad drinking water supply scheme. With even the pits yet to be covered, the stretch from Perunad market to Madathummoozhi is not motorable. The plan to develop the road using bitumen macadam and bitumen concrete has been approved but works won't get over before the pilgrimage season begins.
This is another important road that is lying damaged. Since it is included in the second phase of the Kerala State Transport Project only repair works are carried out. The stretch from district border Kallukadavu to Plachery is in a sorry state; here too only potholes are being covered.
Though potholes are being repaired at Vakayar, Konny and Mannarakulanji, it is done at a slow pace. Works are yet to start at Murinjakal, Koodal and Kalanjoor that fall under Adoor. The stretch between Mannarakulanji and Plachery that falls under Ranni subdivision too is yet to see any works. Nobody is willing to take up the contract to carry out the works. The devotees coming from other states through Chenkotta and Punalur take this route to reach Sabarimala and Erumeli.
Chethomkara - Athikkayam road
A contract has been signed to develop Chethomkara-Athikkayam road on global standards. But work is under way only at Mandiram-Vadasserikkara, Mukkada-Idaman-Athikkayam, Athikkayam bridge-Poovathummodu and Kozhanjery-Ranni stretches. Works are yet to be completed at Vadasserikkara-Chittar-Angamoozhy road.
Adoor – Pathanapuram road
Work is yet to begin on the Adoor-Pathanapuram and Adoor-Sasthamkotta roads that are under the Sabarimala project. The PWD is yet to give permission for changing the water pipeline on KP Road. The water authority has to pay the PWD Rs 5.5 core after which it will give the nod. The stretch from KP Road Adoor to Ilamannur is damaged. The Adoor-Sasthamkotta road is not in a great condition from Nellimoottilpadi to Kadamnad; here too work is yet to commence. Work has begun only on the Adoor-Thatta road.
Ezhamkulam- Kaipattoor road
Nothing remains of a road here. Work has begun to develop the road at a cost of Rs 20 crore. The areas that are completely damaged include those near Moonnam Kalunku, Chandanappally junction, Idathitta junction, Idathitta Kaavumpatu temple, Vazhavilapalam as well as the ones in front of the petrol pump, the Koduman Government LP School. The roads near the police station, veterinary hospital and Krishi Bhavan are also in a shambles. Repair work, mainly filling potholes, has begun on the Plappilly-Angamoozhy stretch. This is the road that takes devotees to from Plappilly to the Angamoozhy stopover.
In Thiruvalla, seven roads have been allotted Rs 5.53 crore. They include Kaavumbagam-Muthur (Rs 3.5 crore), Thiruvalla-Mallapaly (Rs 1 crore), Thukalassery Anjilimood-TK Road Manjadi (Rs 45 lakh), Aarattukadavu-Othara (Rs 20 lakh), Chakrakhsalanakadavu-Kallunkal (Rs 20 lakh), Thondara-Eeradichira (Rs 10 lakh), and Kattod-Thirumoolapuram (Rs 8 lakh).
On Thiruvalla-Mallapally road, potholes are being covered, after which tarring will be done. On Thrivuvalla-Mallappally road, from Deepa junction to Chilanka junction, and on Kaavumbagam-Muthur road the PWD is filling the potholes with rock dust and crushed rocks.
Now, the road and surround areas are enveloped in dust. The Kaavumbagam-Muthur road works are yet to begin. On the Anjilimood-Manjadi road, the potholes have been covered. The roads under the Mallappally subdivision are yet to see any repair works. Repair works are being done on Kumbanad-Kallupara, Njalikandam-Kadamankulam, Kunnathanam-Kaviyoor, Mallappally-Thiruvalla roads. Work is yet to begin on Thannithod-Chittar road. The tarring on Neeli Pilav to Chittar raod has eroded, giving rise to potholes and cracks.