NHAI serves dust to road users and residents on NH 75 between B.C. Road and Periyashanthi

The contractor has failed to provide good motorable or alternative road as per conditions in the contract

November 01, 2022 10:21 am | Updated November 07, 2022 03:28 pm IST - MANGALURU

National Highways Authority of India (NHAI), which is widening Mangaluru-Bengaluru NH 75 between B.C. Road and Periyashanthi (Dharmasthala Cross), has not provided an alternative or motorable road, resulting in a dusty and bumpy drive for road users.

National Highways Authority of India (NHAI), which is widening Mangaluru-Bengaluru NH 75 between B.C. Road and Periyashanthi (Dharmasthala Cross), has not provided an alternative or motorable road, resulting in a dusty and bumpy drive for road users. | Photo Credit: ANIL KUMAR SASTRY

“I’m not sure whether traders and others on the flanks of Mangaluru-Bengaluru National Highway 75 wore masks during the COVID-19 pandemic, but for sure they’re wearing one ever since the four-lane work of the highway between B.C. Road and Periyashanthi (Dharmasthala Cross) commenced last September,” quipped a resident of Mani town in Dakshina Kannada district of Karnataka.

With thousands of vehicles, from light motor to heavy to very heavy, plying on the crucial highway connecting the port city with the State capital, dust clouds could be seen enveloping passing vehicles and adjacent buildings.

The contractor — KNR Constructions, Hyderabad — sprays water three-four times a day on the carriageway, which evaporates in minutes due to the scorching sun, said the resident of Mani.

The difference in highway work in Karnataka, Kerala
There appears to be a difference in the way National Highways Authority of India carries out work in Karnataka and Kerala | Video Credit: Anil Kumar Sastry

Violation of conditions in the contract

The problem lies with the contractor failing to ensure the existing carriageway remains motorable during the construction period, or providing an alternative service road for regular traffic. Neither elected representatives nor the NHAI or district administration appear bothered about this violation of the terms of the contract, said a resident of Kalladka town that has been bearing the brunt of the four-lane work.

Residents and road-users, who had to bear with a slushy highway during the rains, have now been suffering from the dust.

A retired senior engineer, who has built some roads in Karnataka, termed the situation between B.C. Road and Periyashanthi simply as a mess. “It is not a road at all,” he said adding the contractor must provide a good and traffic-worthy road during execution of the work.

As the bitumen surface on the existing carriageway is completely worn out with potholes and craters being the norm, driving through the stretch has become nightmarish experience. Some advice travelers to carry an additional set of cloths if they were travelling by non-AC mode of transport as they would get covered in dust.

Enormous delay in repair of Bengaluru-Mangaluru highway

Initiated in 2017 by NHAI, the four-lane work between B.C. Road and Addahole under engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) mode was initially awarded to Larsen & Toubro, rescinded the contract in 2019-20 after the NHAI changed the scope of the contract. The package was split into two — Addahole-Periyashanthi and Periyashanthi-B.C. Road — and a fresh contract was awarded for the latter stretch to KNR Constructions in July 2021 at an estimated cost of ₹1,100 crore. Work started in September 2021.

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