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Dust envelops greenery on Shiradi Ghat

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BACK TO SQUARE ONE: Lorries carrying the iron ore on Shiradi Ghat stretch of the NH 48.
BACK TO SQUARE ONE: Lorries carrying the iron ore on Shiradi Ghat stretch of the NH 48.

Staff Correspondent

Heavy transport vehicles violating all the rules with impunity

HASSAN: It was a sigh of relief for thousands of people travelling between Bangalore and Mangalore on NH 48 when the Shiradi Ghat road was thrown open to traffic. This stretch was closed for traffic in November 2006 as National Highways took up rebuilding the road besides strengthening the curves with cement concrete.

The road was rebuilt at a cost of Rs. 33 crore. Earlier, people had to take a detour via Charmudi Ghat. There is overnight train service between Mangalore and Bangalore via Hassan and Mysore but one had to reserve one month in advance.

But the happiness of the passengers who could witness picturesque scenario while passing Shiradi Ghat was short-lived as thousands of iron ore loaded lorries passed through the stretch. Soon, the greenery faded away with the vegetation being enveloped by mine dust.

The road stretch of the road had hairpin bends. The construction work of the drains is in progress. This is amidst thick forest of the Western Ghats. This place is known for receiving 300 to 350 inch rain annually. This worsened the condition of the road. Between Gundya and Donegal, the road is laid at a considerably higher altitude. This road is used by lorries carrying timber, granites from Mangalore harbour to Bangalore and iron ore from Bellary and Chitradurga district to Mangalore harbour. As per the rule, the iron ore, when transported by trucks, should be covered with tarpaulin. But this rule was seldom followed.

Shiradi Ghat road was opened after 14 months closure. For the past one week, heavy transport vehicles have been passing through the Shiradi Ghat and the authorities concerned have turned a blind eye to overloading and violation of road safety rules by the drivers of these vehicles.

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