Vijay B., owner of a grocery shop at Bikarnakatte, has one question: why is there is no proper work plan for widening the stretch of National Highway 13 between Nanthoor Junction and Bikarnakatte? “They had asphalted the stretch just a few days ago. They have now dug up the road to build a culvert. Who should be held responsible for this unnecessary spending and damage to the highway?” he said.
Mr. Vijay is among many residents of Bikarnakatte who are aggrieved over the way the road-widening work was being done. The digging of the road resulted in residents being denied water supply on Sunday and Monday. The water supply was restored only on Tuesday night. Motorists have been facing hardships as roadworks had not been completed.
The residents of Nagabrahmastana Road, a small road that connects the highway, said several pleas were made to the National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) to build a culvert and the shoulder drains before asphalting the road stretch. “We were only guided from one engineer to another engineer and nothing was done. They just went ahead with asphalting the widened road without realising about the possible water logging,” said Gopalakrishna Shenoy, an old resident of the area.
Light showers a week ago exposed the problem. “Water logging on our road disrupted movement of many residents. Water entered into many of our houses,” Mr. Shenoy alleged. This led the residents to petition the NHAI authorities to lay the missing culvert and hence the work commenced five days ago.
A representative of contract agency IRCON, who was supervising the work at the site, said building the culvert was not in the original plan. “We are now doing it as per the instructions by the NHAI authorities. In place of a culvert we are laying cement pipes across the road to drain rainwater,” the IRCON representative said.
However, the residents were not satisfied with the way the pipes were being laid. “They are laying the pipes at a higher level and it will in no way prevent water-logging. The amount being spent on laying the pipeline will go down the drain,” alleged another resident Shivaram Kulashekar.
P. George Modayil, the team leader of the New Mangalore Port Connectivity Project of NHAI, said the contractor had erred in not laying the culvert while widening the road. “We told them (contractor) to lay the culvert as there were lot of complaints,” Mr. Modayil said. The Contractor has to build the shoulder drains too, he added.
When pointed to the resident's grievance about the pipeline being laid at a higher level, Mr. Modayil said, “We cannot help. We are only concerned with the National Highway and not of the road that joins the highway,” he said.