5 km stretch: 71 mishaps, 115 deaths

Tuesday Tragedy:

Inviting danger: A view of the Undabatti Kere sans railings on the Mysore - Nanjangud Road. DH photo

The fresh tragedy on National Highway 212 which claimed 31 lives has again reiterated that the stretch between Nanjangud and Mysore is among the dangerous roads in the State.

In a span of six years, the stretch between APMC near Bandipalya and Kadakola has snuffed out 115 lives, including Tuesday’s incident of maxi cab plunging into Undabatti lake. All three major lakes - Undabatti, Mandakalli and Dalvoy lakes fall in the same stretch coming under Mysore South police station limits. According to statistics available with the south police, the stretch reported a total of 71 fatal accidents between year 2004 and 2010, including that of Tuesday’s tragedy. While there were 213 non-fatal accidents reported, the total number of injured people from both categories of accidents has crossed 508. This statistics is only a tip of the iceberg as the stretch between Bandipalya and Kadakola is mere five kms, out of the 20 km between Mysore and Nanjangud town. Many other major tragedies have left commuters affected on the same stretch.

Narrow road

Additional Superintendent of Police, Venkatswamy told Deccan Herald that these mishaps included the people who met with accidents plunging into the lakes dotting the five km stretch and head on collisions and other accidents. The department made all efforts to educate the commuters alerting them with sign boards on the deep dangerous curves, the lakes and other accident spots despite highway becoming very narrow for the scale of vehicular traffic on the road. Admitting that the highway needs to be expanded to streamline traffic movement, he said the department had also made several recommendations to make NH 212 safer for commuters.

He said such tragedies where vehicles plunge into lakes could have been avoided if the NH or PWD officials had took measures to install barriers or side wall along the stretch of these lakes.

Time to act

The anger among the commuters and villagers alongside the stretch is palpable with Wednesday’s strike, where the police had to resort to tear gas shells and lathi charge.

According to sources, though the NH officials had chalked out a plan to make the stretch a two-lane highway, it was shelved after the AAI and district administration officials pondered over expansion of the Mysore airport and relocation of NH 212. However, even as the expansion plans falls in a quagmire between administration on farmers over compensation on acquisition of lands, the AAI also struck down the proposal stating the expansion rather not necessary, right now.

More than 30000 vehicles commute on NH 212 on daily basis as it is the crucial link between Kerala and Karnataka, Ooty - Mysore and other favourite destinations like Bandipur. 

Now, a project with an estimated cost of Rs 9.2 crore to convert the stretch to a two - lane highway awaits technical approval from National Highways.

If Tuesday’s tragedy compels the officials to act, and make Mysore - Nanjangud stretch of NH 212 more safe for the commuters, it would be a case of better late than never.

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