District in-charge Minister J. Krishna Palemar was greeted with a spate of complaints by the residents of Ballur Gudde, when he went there to inaugurate a newly laid mud road on Sunday. Although the new road allows the entry of vehicles in the area for the first time in over 25 years, the residents told Mr. Palemar that it would not end their connectivity problem.

Ballur Gudde is a colony of over 150 households in the Kannur ward of the city corporation. There are hills to the north of the colony and the rest of the ward lies to the south. Arund 25 years ago, the railways laid a track to the south of the colony, which has cut off road connectivity to the rest of the ward. Since then, the residents of the colony have been secluded from the outer world by the railway track on one side and the hill on the other.

What the newly laid road has done is it has connected the area to the outside world but by passing over the hills. What the residents are unhappy about is that they now have to walk for more than one hour to reach Mangalore city using the new road, while people on the other side of the railway track can cover the same distance in five to 10-minutes.

The residents also complained that the new road was very steep and only powerful vehicles could climb the incline. The mud road would become slippery during monsoons and it would be impossible for vehicles to climb, said Abdul Rehman (70), a daily wage earner.

The residents urged Mr. Palemar to lobby with the Railways and secure permission for the construction of an underpass or an overpass there. They led the Minister to two roads in the area that originate from the Kannur-side and said that the work on them had been stopped because the Railways was not allowing those roads to pass over the track.

“If only we are allowed to bridge this 20 metre gap, it will reduce the travel-distance to Mangalore city by over 25 kilometres,” said Iqbal Ahmed (31), a shopkeeper. He told the Minister that the residents of Ballur Gudde had submitted several representations to the Railways through elected representatives without any success.

Blaming it on the apathy of the authorities concerned, Mr. Palemar said that the main problem in addressing such problems was that the railway authorities were based at Palghat, Kerala. Citing the example of the Padil-Bajal railway bridge that was cleared recently, he said the process involved immense bureaucratic red tape and exposed the inaccessibility of the railway authorities.

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