The Kerala High Court on Monday directed the National Highway Authority of India (NHAI) to complete the maintenance works on all roads managed by it in the state within a week.
The high court instructed the district collectors to take appropriate action against engineers and contractors responsible for potholes on the roads.
The NHAI is an autonomous agency of the central government. It is responsible for the management of a network of over 50,000 km of National Highways. It is a nodal agency of the Ministry of Road Transport and Highways.
Justice Devan Ramachadran asked if the authorities were waiting for a death to occur to act.
The court also made it clear that district collectors, as heads of the respective District Disaster Management Authority, also have a responsibility to ensure safety on the roads. "Collectors cannot remain mute spectators," the court said.
The court mentioned the potholes on the roads in Chalakudy, Orumanayoor and on Kodungalloor bypass.
The high court's observation comes close on the heels of the police registering a case against the NHAI and a contractor for causing the death of Hashim, a Manjali native, who fell into a pothole while riding his two-wheeler at Nedumbassery on the Edapally-Mannuthi (NH 544) stretch.
The victim’s relatives and local residents besieged the Paliyakkara toll plaza at Thrissur, protesting the authorities' negligence in carrying out timely repair works, which they alleged led to Hashim’s death. They demanded highway authorities to fill up the potholes immediately.