Members of the district unit of the Janata Dal (Secular) staged a “National Highway 66 Roko” for about 20 minutes demanding that the work on widening of the highway restart immediately, here on Wednesday.

The former MLA Amarnath Shetty said that neither the Centre nor the officials seemed interested in restarting the work on widening NH 66 that had stopped six months ago in the district. The Union Government and Navayuga Company, which was implementing the widening work, should restart the work immediately.

There were several diversions given on the NH 66 at frequent intervals. But no signal lights or blinkers had been installed at these places. As a result, the drivers got confused while driving, especially at night, and this was leading to accidents. Hence, it was essential that the Navayuga Company installed signals at the diversions, he said.

JD(S) district unit president Deviprasad Shetty said that more than 32 accidents had occurred and 12 persons had lost their lives due to the haphazard widening work on NH 66 since January this year. The Centre should give up its proposal of constructing a bypass to Padubidri as many farmers would lose their land. If these demands were not looked into soon, the JD(S) would intensify its agitation in the district, he said.

K.M. Hegde, an official of the National Highways Authority of India (NHAI), who arrived on the spot, said the work on the NH 66 had been affected as the Navayuga Company had faced financial problem. The company would restart its work in 10 days. The diversions on NH 66 would be removed wherever possible, and signals would be installed where there were diversions. The NHAI was concerned about the safety of people. The decision on the construction of a bypass to Padubidri would be taken by the Government. “We expect nearly 80 per cent of the work on widening of NH 66 to be completed by May”, he said.