‘Stubborn’ MCC’s Rs. 10 crore investment likely to be buried as NHAI says no
For a few years now Mangaloreans have been told that a modern bus stand will come up near Mahaveera (Pumpwell) Circle, which was expected to emerge as a transport hub for buses from Dakshina Kannada, Udupi and Kasaragod.
The former Mayor Shankar Bhat — one of the strong proponents of the project — has lost hope of realising the dream. “Land that has been levelled for it will be used for some other purpose. Bus stand is not likely to come up there,” he said in despair.
The National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) rejected a suggestion from the Mangalore City Corporation to provide an underpass to connect the proposed transport hub. The NHAI has also said it was not in favour of having a busy bus stand so close to the highway (which connects Panvel to Kochi) that is being widened to enable vehicles to move at a speed of 80-100 km per hour. The NHAI is yet to communicate this in writing to the corporation.
Why did the corporation decide to ahead with this project if it has not been cleared by the NHAI? The NHAI officials blame it on the adamant corporation, while Mr. Bhat said that the NHAI had changed its plans and acquired more land than what was required for road widening.
The project of having a new bus stand was mooted in 1994 when Bharatlal Meena was the Deputy Commissioner. The Mangalore City Corporation spent around Rs. 10 crore for acquiring and levelling eight acres of land in 2011. Preliminary notification has been issued for acquisition of another 10 acres of land. The corporation has earmarked Rs. 3 crore for building the transport hub.
Down the drain?
Activist Hanumanth Kamath blamed MCC officials and the then District in-charge Minister J. Krishna Palemar for the present state of uncertainty. “Authorities as well as Mr. Palemar went ahead with the project without consulting the NHAI. Their urgency has led to investment for the project going down the drain,” he said.
Mr. Bhat said there was no follow-up after the acquisition of land. “I had indications about NHAI’s disapproval for this project and did raise it a couple of times in the MCC council. I brought this to the notice of Mr. Palemar. Unfortunately no action was taken,” he said.
Mr. Palemar said the NHAI should provide the link necessary between the highway and the proposed hub, which was important for the city. There was no other land available for the government to have the transport hub. About not involving the NHAI in planning the hub, Mr. Palemar said “You cannot wait for clearance from the NHAI for projects like this.”
Senior Congress councillor Lancelot Pinto said the MCC had to work with the government to figure out other ways of decongesting Hampankatta.
A.U. Ravishankar, Head of Department of Civil Engineering, NIT-K, suggested that ramps can be provided from the hub to connect it to the highway. “This will be costly but can be considered.”