Thrissur: Unsafe roads are a concern for motorists across Kerala. Their fears mount if they happen to approach the Kuthiran stretch of the national highway, close to the borders of Thrissur and Palakkad districts of Kerala. A whopping 235 people have been killed on the Mannuthy-Vadakkencherry stretch over the last 10 years, an RTI query revealed. Depressingly, the age of majority of the victims was less than 35 years. The hilly Kuthiran area is along this death trap.
The increasing number of road fatalities came to be reported from this area even as a project to convert the Vadakkencherry- Mannuthy stretch of the national highway into a six-lane road was launched 15 years ago considering the rising number of mishaps owing to heavy traffic. As the road development work is yet to be completed, traffic along the stretch has become nightmare and accidents are common.
The highway section covered 3 km in the forested hill of Kuthiran. As part of the plan to preserve the green cover, a 1-km tunnel was suggested here and its work started in 2009. Work on the tunnel has reached nowhere, posing trouble for motorists.
The authorities have designated some spots where frequent accidents take place as 'dead zones' and 'blood zones'. Chances of accidents are very high at 10 places between Vaniyambara and Mannuthy where deep pits were dug to fix manholes. Recently, a youth named Amrit Raj had fallen into one such pit at DD Pady in Mullakkara at night. As grass covered the pit, the youth had failed to notice it in the dark.
Another risk is posed by the depressions left as part of the work on an underground pathway at Pattikkad.
Peechi’s dubious record
The most number of deaths occur under the limits of the Peechi police station. On September 14, the toll touched 100 when Kunduvara Kochaniyan, an exponent of the musical instrument Kurumkuzhal, died in an accident at Pattikkad.
Over the last decade, 49 people were killed under Mannuthy police station limits and 86 in Vadakkencherry police station area. These figures were obtained by Shaji J Kodankandath, a social worker.
The Peechi police station area covers the stretch of the national highway from Aaramkallu to Vaniyambara, the border of Thrissur and Palakkad districts. Every day, at least one accident is reported from here. No day is free of traffic blocks also. However, Highway Police have been deployed in the area, which has somewhat lessened the burden of the local police. Moreover, 10 police personnel have been sent exclusively for traffic duties to Kuthiran on the orders of the Superintendent of Police.
A frightful past
In olden times, the hills at Kuthiran were the haunt of highway robbers who did not shy away from murder to take away belongings of travellers. As a result, most people avoided travelling at night; the path saw movement of pedestrians and bullock carts only during the day.
However, the situation is worse now. Damaged roads and the lackadaisical attitude of the authorities have made travelling dangerous during day as well as night. There are traffic blocks round the clock and chances of accidents are rife. Apart from the bad roads, speeding vehicles, careless driving as well as deep pits and potholes take people's lives.