MANGALORE: The 37-km stretch on Shiradi Ghat between Gundia in Puttur taluk and Marenahalli in Sakleshpur taluk has yet again gone bad. And the state government has yet again sought funds from the Centre to repair it.
Users of this stretch, which seems to be under repair all the time, have a tough time reaching Bangalore. The road goes bad twice a year, and is repaired only once, leaving the road in a bad condition for at least nine months, says Jagannath Rao, owner of a home stay in Sakleshpur who gets his supplies from both Bangalore and Mangalore.
A retired official of the National Highways Authority of India told Express that the state’s rates for repairing the national highway was not more than `1 crore per km. “I do not know how the repair of a 37-km stretch would cost `130 crore, which is the exact sum the state government has demanded from the Centre recently,” he said.
Highway activists at Sakleshpur and Mangalore think that Shiradi was being kept that way as it has become a money spinner. Members of NH 75 Ulisi Horata Vedike of Sakleshpur opine that the state ministers or MLAs do not use the Shiradi Road as they fly to Mangalore from Bangalore and vice versa.
“They use the road only when they go to Dharmasthala or Kukke Subramanya, that too after confirming that the roads are in good condition,” says Srinivas Gowda, an activist.
The road used to last at least three years before repairs were needed. But once mining trucks started plying on these roads, carrying tonnage more than what was allowed by the Registered Laden Weight (RLW) of the vehicle, the situation changed. But now, even without the mining trucks, the roads are going bad twice in a year which needs to be probed, say the activists.
Speaking on the economics of road usage, Narasimha Kamath, a regular commuter, says the bad condition of the road forces vehicle owners to shell out extra money on car maintenance. Also, thousands of man hours are lost every day due to slow movement of vehicles. Travelling in higher gears on this bumpy stretch leads to higher consumption of fuel, he added.
According to the Transport Department, the traffic between Bangalore and Mangalore on NH 75 was so dense that it crosses 10,000 passenger bus units (each unit is equivalent to 5 passenger car loads) per day which has been compared with the Eastern Express Highway between Mumbai and Pune. NH Mangalore division officials say the area had been getting copious rains for the last one month and hence no work could be taken up.