They want work on a 30-km stretch of the highway completed soon
MYSORE: Hundreds of people participated in a road blockade in order to protest against work being stalled on the last stretch of the Mysore-Mananthavadi highway, which passes through the Nagarahole National Park.
Residents of villages along the State’s border with Kerala assembled at the H.D. Kote hand-post on Saturday in response to a call given by the Border Development Struggle Committee of H.D. Kote taluk.
The residents gave vent to their ire against “misguided environmentalists” who had submitted what they termed a false representation to the Central Empowered Committee constituted by the Supreme Court, which had issued a temporary injunction to stop the work.
Traffic on the Mysore-Mananthavadi highway, which connects the State with Kerala, was disrupted for more than an hour.
The former Minister M. Shivanna, M.P. Venkatesh, former MLA, and farmer Vivek Cariappa led the agitation. Work on the 92-km-long Mysore-Mananthavadi highway work has been completed up to the 62nd kilometre. The speakers emphasised the need to complete work on the last 30 km. .
Mr. Cariappa said the highway was being resurfaced without any expansion or widening. Far from the contention of the complainant that the road was being upgraded to an inter-State National Highway, the resurfaced road would remain a single carriageway even after the work was completed, he said.
Most of the speakers contended that the highway did not pose any threat to wildlife in the national park.
As of now, it takes around three hours to traverse the 30-km stretch connecting Antharsanthe and D.B. Kuppe. The road has not been asphalted since Nagarahole was declared a national park in 1974. This has caused many problems for people living in border areas. They are unable to travel to H.D. Kote taluk and other parts of Mysore district. The sick, students and farmers are the worst affected.
The demand for early completion of work on the highway was also raised by Kannada Development Authority Chairman Siddalingaiah, who said that people residing in the border areas of the State would migrate to Kerala if the infrastructure in the area did not improve. Dr. Siddalingaiah had made the statement at the Gadinadu Utsav held in H.D. Kote last month.
A similar road blockade was also organised at Katikulam in Kerala with people on the other side of the border also pressing for early completion of roadworks.
Mr. Cariappa said, “The taluk’s problem stems mainly from the lack of good infrastructure. Why should an ‘environmentalist’ living in urban India have the right to object to development of infrastructure that will give access to health services, educational facilities and economically viable supply of essential commodities,” he asked.