A year after deluge, Kodagu roads remain vulnerable

A landslide in Kodagu during monsoon

The collapse of Makutta road, connecting Virajpet and Kerala, may be the beginning of a series of road-related infrastructure damages waiting to happen in Kodagu, where most of the 118 works planned by the PWD department are pending as the government has released only 11% of the funds sought, last year.

With the weatherman issuing red alerts almost every day for the last two weeks, officials on the ground are worried that state highways and district main roads may suffer extensive damages in case of heavy rain as key projects to secure them have remained non-starters due to lack of funds.

“The road (Makutta) caved in as water undercut its foundation 40 feet below on the side of the hill. A retention wall for the said road was one of the several works proposed by the public works department (PWD) to prevent damage to roads connecting the district to other parts of the state,” sources in the government said.

Documents show that PWD officials had sent a proposal to the government last year, seeking Rs 394 crore for 120 works, most of them involving the building of retention walls. “The government released only about Rs 45 crore, which was not enough to take up even the emergency repair works. More than 100 spots remain vulnerable today, a year after the floods,” the source said.

Kodagu Deputy Commissioner Annies Kanmani Joy said she was not aware of the Rs 394-crore proposal as PWD officials were communicating directly with the government. “As far as district administration is concerned, we had held a meeting chaired by the chief minister, last week. The government has agreed to provide Rs 52 crore for emergency road works,” she said.

A senior PWD official in Bengaluru said the Rs 52.65 crore for 81 immediate works excludes crucial projects to build retention wall on some of the key links in the three taluks of the hilly district. “We hope the government takes up the issue immediately. Probably a minister’s assessment of the situation will be more helpful to provide relief to the people,” he said.

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