Bengaluru

Watering holes on 94.89 km of NHs, service roads in Bengaluru to be hit

taking the last orders? Pubs and bars in and around M.G. Road in Bengaluru face the threat of closure

taking the last orders? Pubs and bars in and around M.G. Road in Bengaluru face the threat of closure  

Around 220 establishments in the east zone, covering M.G. Road, Brigade Road, Old Madras Road and Indiranagar, and about 244 establishments in south zone, including Koramangala, have been identified so far

It could be an uphill task for the State government to pull the national highways in the city off the grid.

It is not just M.G. Road and Brigade Road, in the Central Business District, that will be affected, but also liquor vending establishments on four different stretches and service roads of the NHs, totalling 94.89 km across the city, show documents available with The Hindu.

This includes 77.64 km on six stretches of four NHs and the remaining are service roads pertaining to elevated NHs.

About 220 establishments in the East zone, which covers party areas on M.G. Road, Brigade Road, Old Madras Road and Indiranagar, and about 244 establishments in South Zone, including Koramangala, have been identified so far.

Excise officials estimate that about 700 establishments will now fall within 500m of these 94.89-km stretches across the city, all of which have the start point from the General Post Office on Dr. B.R. Ambedkar Veedhi.

A letter to the Union Secretary, Ministry of Road Transport and Highways by the State government has sought denotification of different sections of the NHs passing through Bengaluru.

This includes four NHs and three stretches of service roads pertaining to the elevated NHs under the purview of the National Highways Authority of India.

A stretch of 16.45 km passes through the Kanakapura Road on the Bengaluru-Dindigul NH 209 and a 17.937-km stretch of Bengaluru-Bantwal NH 275 passes through Mysuru Road. National Highway 48 has two sections in the city. The Bengaluru-Pune section has a stretch of 9.8 km and the Bengaluru-Kolar-Chennai section has a stretch of 15.8 km.

There are two sections of the National Highway 44 also: one stretch of 9 km and another stretch of 8.65 km.

Officials not confident

Despite the State government writing to the Union Ministry of Road Transport and Highways to denotify 858.64-km of stretches of the National Highways as urban roads, officials are not confident of the Ministry accepting the request in toto.

Similar requests have also been made by other States to denotify stretches on such a large scale. This would require a common policy at the Centre, which may or may not happen soon, sources said.

“There could be a case to remove about 94-km stretches of highways in Bengaluru, but we doubt that it could happen in other places also. Even for Bengaluru it may take time,” said an official associated with the National Highway project and aware of the development.

Of the 858.64-km stretches of NH, 154.59 km of highways, which were bypasses, have been denotified already. Apart from the bypasses, the State government has identified 147 stretches (not including Bengaluru city) across the State totalling a distance of 609.16 km.

Meanwhile, many officials in the Public Works Department, but involved in national highway works, also expressed displeasure about the pace in which the State government wrote to the Centre.

“No cost analysis required to maintain the 858-km stretch was done. These highways are of high quality and requires timely maintenance that involves huge sums. It looks like the government was interested only in maintaining Excise revenue and did not see the additional financial burden,” an official added.

Stuck in the past

Over six years after the Union government issued a gazette notification changing the numbers of National Highways to make it more scientific, the State authorities are yet to wake up to the issue.

The notification copy had been sent to heads of Public Works Departments of every State and Union Territory to update records.

However, an official letter sent from the Public Works, Ports and IWT Department still name the NH in the city as NH 4 and NH 7.

While NH 4 has been redesignated as NH 48, NH 7 has been redesignated as NH 44. Similarly, more than two decades after Madras was renamed Chennai, the official letter states Madras.

Its just not that. Over two years after names of cities in Karnataka were renamed officially, the letter still sticks to old names of Bangalore, Tumkur, Hubli and Mangalore to name the cities. However, it has used Vijayapura (for Bijapur) and Kalaburagi (for Gulbarga).

No mention of liquor

The letter to the Union government is silent on liquor vending outlets. It states: “The State government is of the opinion that during maintenance of the National Highways passing through city limits as per the IRC guidelines, coordination and co-operation of local bodies are essential. It is therefore felt that in case of city/ town limits infrastructure works like laying of water pipelines, construction of drain, laying of OFC cable all along the National Highway, permission from local authorities is required as per the Karnataka Municipalities Act, 1964. Therefore it is proposed to declare these parts of National Highways as urban roads/ local authority roads.”

It has also pointed out that the section 2(1) of National Highway Act 1956 which said that the National Highway were declared except such parts that are situated within the municipal area. This section, however, was deleted subsequently through amendment.

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Printable version | Feb 21, 2020 6:03:36 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/bangalore/watering-holes-on-9489-km-of-nhs-service-roads-to-be-hit/article19166820.ece

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