Elephant corridor issue has taken a backseat in the reserve constituency

Pajapalla’s Diwakar was a young boy when he went to Pune in search of a job, two decades ago. He was stunned to find the narrow Bellare-Pajapalla-Nintikal Road in the same state when he returned to the village six years ago.

After he settled in the village as a tailor, people in Sullia constituency elected the BJP candidate to power for the fourth consecutive term in 2008. The sorry state of the road has remained the same ever since.

“It is an important 10-km-long road which links Puttur-Kukke Subrahmanya Road and Bellare-Sullia Road. The road edges are squared and not slanted. At certain stretches the road is too narrow,” he told The Hindu.

Businessmen Mohammed and Prabhakar said that the volume of traffic on the road had increased drastically, but there was no sign of any road-widening work. Only potholes have been filled some days ago, they said. The duo said that a 2-km stretch between Aivernad and Bellare on the Bellare-Sullia Road continued to be a single lane with sharp edges and not curved as they should be.

But Mr. Mohammed added that Bellare-Madavu Road (about 25km) which was a single-lane road was made a two-lane road during the past six months. People were happy.

Roads and bridges are the main poll issues for political parties in Sullia, a constituency reserved for Scheduled Castes. This is the only reserved constituency in Dakshina Kannada. Though people in villages in the surroundings of Shiradi, Kukke Subrahmanya a year ago were apprehensive over rumours that the government had proposed to set up an elephant corridor and their villages would come under it, the issue is not being talked about now either by people or parties.

Pointing out at the low-lying Hosmatha and Kumaradhara bridges, M. Venkappa Gowda, president of Sullia Block Congress Committee, said: “Does it take 20 years for the BJP to construct new bridges?” Both the bridges submerged during heavy rains every year. Kumaradhara bridge linked Gundia (on the NH 75) — Kukke Subrahmanya Road and the Hosmatha bridge was on Kukke Subrahmanya-Uppinangady (on NH 75) Road.

Mr. Gowda said that Nadugallu-Kalmakkar Road still remained a single lane road for a length of 10 km.

S. Angara, the four-term MLA, told The Hindu that the roads could not be widened as a non-BJP government was in the power in the State between 1994 and 2008. He could not get the road widened though the BJP-JD(S) coalition government was in power for some days. Widening of different roads began after 2008 after the BJP came to power. For example, the single lane Kukke Subrahmanya-Panja-Nintikal-Kaniyoor Road and Madavu-Bellare Road have been widened now. The single lane 40 km-long Jalsoor-Kukke Subrahmanya Road was being widened now.

P.G.S.N. Prasad, general secretary of Sullia unit of the BJP, claimed that proposals for constructing the two new bridges were ready with the government.

Mr. Gowda and Rakesh Kuntikana, secretary of taluk unit of the Janata Dal (Secular) alleged that the BJP had come to power in the constituency by projecting Hindutva. But Mr. Angara denied this stating that he had been seeking votes on the development projects done by him.

There is a direct fight between the BJP and Sullia in this election.

The Congress candidate B. Raghu, an oncologist who practices privately, is facing Mr. Angara in this election for the third time. Dr. Raghu said that as a doctor he is known to people. He said that this time people might vote for a change.

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