With a fragile foundation, the road surface hardly lasts six months: official
Raichur district produces considerable quantum of rice and hosts a thermal power plant to cater to the energy needs of the State. Ironically, the district does not have a single kilometre of national highway.
The transportation requirements in this district are met by State highways (SH) and major district roads (MDR), the majority of which are in disrepair, mainly owing to faulty construction.
State Highway19 (Srirangapatna-Jevargi) and State Highway 30 (Sindhanur-Hemmadaga) are the two roads that people dread to travel in Raichur. The former connects Sindhanur with Lingasugur via Maski while the latter connects Sindhanur with Kushtagi in Koppal district. Other SHs in the district are relatively in a better condition, but not completely free of potholes.
So much so that there have been instances when sick people and pregnant women have chosen to stay at home and face the consequences rather than risk travelling on the treacherous roads to reach a good hospital in Sindhanur.
The 26-km stretch of SH 19, between Sindhanur and Maski, is riddled with potholes and craters all the way, though the road up to Lingasugur is a little better. Karnataka Road Development Corporation Ltd. (KRDCL) had invited tenders thrice to develop it into a sophisticated two-lane toll road at a cost of Rs. 189.67 crore, under public private partnership (PPP). However, there were no takers.
Public Works Department officials claim private partners may be wary of the economic viability of the project. Yet, KRDCL officials are giving the final touches to the fourth tender call with a revised estimation of costs.
The story of SH 30 is no better. Out of 64 km, from Sindhanur to Kushtagi, the 18-km stretch up to Turvihal is the worst off. Just about five months ago, the PWD had spent Rs. 3 crore for strengthening the road. But, it has come right back to its “normal” state.
“Spending money on these roads is an annual business here. With a fragile foundation, the patchwork on top can hardly last six months,” said Nagaraj, Assistant Executive Engineer, PWD, Sindhanur. He said, “The very formation of both SH 19 and SH 30 is erroneous. The foundation is made of easily available black cotton soil, which istotally unfit for road construction. Moreover, these roads pass through irrigated terrain. It is quite natural that water percolates through it and gets embedded. As a result, crests settle in with traffic flow on the road.”
The area has been irrigated by the Tungabhadra Left Bank Canal for the last five decades. Yet, PWD prefers to do patchwork, spending huge amounts of money without strengthening the foundation.
A piece of good news, though. The KRDCL has now decided to fortify the foundation of SH 30 at a cost of Rs. 139.27 crore. DRN Infrastructure, Hubli, has bagged the contract and the work is expected to start shortly.