H-K roads lead to nowhere

battered: This is the common scene every day on the Gulbarga-Aland road, which is part of Ribbanpalli-Wagdhari State Highway 10. It takes two hours to cover the 45-km distance to Aland . DH Photo

If roads are considered the lifeline of an economy, the Hyderabad-Karnataka economy is a disaster.

Road connectivity involving national highways, State highways and the major district roads has been very poor in this part despite the State government incorporating the recommendations of D M Nanjundappa Committee on Regional Imbalance in its efforts over the last three years to address the regional imbalance through a Special Development Plan supported by budgetary allocations. The Hyderabad-Karnataka Area Development Board has spent several crores of rupees on road formation, but its impact is nowhere to be felt.

According to official information available up to March 2008 with the Public Works Department (PWD) that is responsible for maintenance and development of national highways, state highways and major district roads, Raichur occupies the last 29th rank among all the 29 districts (excluding Yadgir which was formed in 2009 and which is included in the undivided Gulbarga district).

It is not surprising for Raichur to attain the notorious position for it always occupies the last rank in the human development index (HDI) of the state. It is one of the two districts in the State which does not have a single kilometre of national highway, the other being Kodagu, whose topography may be cited as an excuse. But Raichur has no excuse. The total road length (TRL) per 100 sq km in Raichur district is as low as 66.96 km as against Karnataka’s TRL/100 sq km of 109.3 km. The condition of three other districts of the H-K region is in no way better.

Gulbarga, which also includes the newly formed Yadgir district, ranks second from the bottom, that is, the 28th rank with a TRL/100 sq km of 70.44 km. The district, however, has a national highway running 122 km thanks to recent formation of the Humnabad-Bijpaur sector connecting NH-9 (Hyderabad-Pune) and NH-13 (Solapur-Chitradurga).

Koppal, which is at the 26th rank, has TRL per 100 sq km 73.52. Only Bidar district is comparatively a little bit better, occupying the 19th rank with TRL/100 sq km 101.53.

What is worth noting is that TRL/100 sq km of all the four H-K districts is far below the state average of 109.3. The North Zone of the PWD, which covers the entire North Karnataka, has been treated shabbily compared to south Karnataka. The N-K TRL/100 sq km is 88.92 as against 130.86 of south Karnataka.

A comparison of the top five districts of the state, which have a well-connected road network with Raichur or Gulbarga, boggles the mind.

Udupi occupies the first rank with a TRL/100 sq km of a mind-boggling 250 km. This is more than double the state average and nearly three times that of north Karnataka.

The four other districts among the top five with excellent connectivity are: Mandya (TRL/100 sq km 223.5), Dakshina Kannada (182.9), Bangalore Rural (154.21), and Haveri (146.96). Haveri, part of N-Karnataka is the only exception to figure among the top five while the all other four districts are in South Karnataka.

Among the worst five districts, Gulbarga has the highest population of 31.25 lakh (2001 census) while the top district Udupi has the population of only 11.09 lakh. And that should speak volumes about disparities and regional imbalance which is almost unbridgable in the near future.

“It will take at least 15 years for Raichur or Gulbarga to compete with Udupi or Mandya in better road connectivity,” remarked a PWD official.

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