Union and state ministers spar over potholes on roads in Kerala 

V Muraleedharan | Photo: ANI

Thiruvananthapuram: Union Minister V Muraleedharan and Kerala Minister P A Mohammed Riyas on Wednesday lashed out at each other over some potholes on national highways and the latter even urged the Central ministers visiting the southern state to count and fill the pits instead of just clicking pictures of almost-finished projects and posting it on their social media pages.

While speaking during the question hour session in the Assembly, Riyas, who holds the PWD portfolio in the Pinarayi Vijayan government, found fault with the Centre over the potholes on the national highways, maintained by the National Highways Authority of India (NHAI).

Without naming Union Minister V Muraleedharan, he said there are more potholes on the national highways than the press meets convened by him.

Within hours, Muraleedharan gave a tit-for-tat reply in New Delhi asking him to first fill the potholes on the PWD-maintained roads in the state under him before criticising the Union government and the national highways.

Taking a dig at Chief Minister Vijayan, also the father-in-law of Riyas, the Union minister said the number of potholes on the national highways would surely be less than the press meets he had conducted during the time of COVID-19 advising people on silly matters.

In an apparent reference to External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar's recent inspection at Kazhakuttom flyover here, Riyas said in the morning that several Union ministers are visiting Kerala nowadays and leave after taking photographs of projects which are ready for inauguration and posting it on social media.

"We are of the view that such ministers should take responsibility to count and fill the potholes on the national highways falling under the National Highway Authority," he said.

His criticism comes a day after CM Vijayan slammed External Affairs Minister Jaishankar's recent visit to the state and inspection of the Kazhakuttom flyover on the National Highway-66 here, which is under construction.

Without naming Muraleedharan, he said there is a person who was born in our state, played and grew up here, became a Rajya Sabha member from another state and is now a Union minister.

"It is a good thing. He convenes press meets on most of the days...that is also good...But, it is true that there are more potholes on the national highways in India, including those in Kerala, than the number of press meets he convenes," Riyas said.

Slamming the young minister for his statement, Muraleedharan asked him to travel through the state roads instead of flights once in a while to understand its pathetic condition and the difficulties being faced by common people to go through those roads.

He also pointed out the recent remarks made by the High Court against the state roads and the PWD for its poor condition.

"If there is any issue with the national highway, we will surely rectify it. There is no need to criticise us to cover up your inabilities," Muraleedharan added. PTI

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