Though government releases funds for maintenance, pothole filling remains only on paper

While the politician-contractor nexus is usually blamed for the pathetic state of roads, politicians in Tumkur district blame it on the nexus between the Public Works Department officials and contractors.

Except certain sections of national highways passing through Tumkur, the second largest district in the State, all other roads are in a state of neglect. Politicians — including Lok Sabha member G.S. Basavaraju, Madhugiri MLA K.N. Rajanna, Gubbi MLA S.R. Srinivas (Vasu) and the former Minister Venkataramanappa — are unanimous that though amounts were released for upkeep of roads in the district, they were spent only on paper and not a single pothole was filled.

The district has three national highways (NH) — NH 4 (Chennai-Mumbai), NH 206 (Tumkur-Honnavar) and NH 48 (Bangalore-Mangalore), 11 State highways (SH) and major district roads with a length 3,732.48 km. Though the condition of NHs is good, underpasses, footpaths and service roads are lacking around Tumkur city on NH 4, causing inconvenience to road users.

SH 33, which links Koratagere in Tumkur district with Bavali in Mysore district, on the Karnataka-Kerala border via Tumkur and Kunigal, is filled with potholes. This road, connecting two taluk headquarters with Tumkur has been neglected for years.

Another major state highway connecting Tiptur with neighbouring Hassan district is also in a pathetic condition. Work on upgrading the road by Karnataka Road Development Corporation Ltd. has been a non-starter. SH 48, connecting Pavagada with Kumta in Uttara Kannada district, too is bad.

Roads passing through Madhugiri and Pavagada taluks, synonymous with backwardness, reflect the same pattern. Eranna, a resident of Madhugiri, said the roads in the region are in such a bad condition that even animal-drawn carts cannot ply on them. Inter-State roads, namely, Sira-Amarapuram and Madhugiri-Hindupur, connecting Andhra Pradesh, too are not in good condition.

Mr. Rajanna told The Hindu that even though the government releases funds for road maintenance annually, the condition of roads remain pathetic. He alleged that officials prepare false bills claiming to have filled potholes.

Inquiry

The then PWD Minister C.M. Udasi had ordered a departmental inquiry against Manjunath, executive engineer in-charge of the district, on allegations of misappropriation of about Rs. 4.38 crore. The status of inquiry is not known, and Mr. Manjunath is not at present serving in the district. The inquiry was ordered following allegations by Mr. Basavaraju, Mr. Srinivas and Mr. Venkataramanappa that the amount released was not spent on filling potholes.

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