Belgaum district may have the largest road network in the State, but the roads are no better than those in other districts. Except for stretches of the four-lane national highway 4 passing through the district, others are in a pathetic condition.
While people, by and large, seem to have learnt to live with bad roads, authorities in the National Highways Authority of India, Public Works Department, municipalities and panchayats have conveniently turned a blind eye. They wake up from slumber once in a while when under pressure from the top.
The pathetic condition of the roads and poor quality of roadworks become apparent during the monsoon when roads develop potholes and sometimes stretches get washed away.
A random survey revealed that though major roads in the city and towns are better than those connecting villages, they have developed potholes and the top surface is fast eroding due to poor quality of work. Commuting on rural roads is a backbreaking experience.
Let alone old roads, even newly laid ones get damaged within no time due to poor quality work and contractors’ failure to maintain them according to tender conditions. Contractors, allegedly hand in glove with department engineers, even manage to get favourable third-party inspection reports done within an hour, as was evident during the work on some of the road stretches in Belgaum city.
The government spent large amounts on widening some roads in Belgaum city, strengthening their bed, constructing pavements and repeatedly asphalting them on various occasions such as the Vishwa Kannada Sammelan, inauguration of the Suvarna Vidhana Soudha and again during the first winter session of the legislature at the Suvarna Vidhana Soudha in December last. Deputy Commissioner N. Jayaram admitted that several roads in the city were in a poor shape, and added that he would direct contractors to take up repairs after the monsoon.
Travellers have a nightmarish experience on NH 4A (from Belgaum to Panaji), particularly on the stretch between Peeranwadi and Goa border which has been in a shambles for the last couple of years.
Officials of the NHAI said the contractor had been directed to take up maintenance work. Some potholes along the stretch were filled recently.