Tired of waiting, college spends Rs six crore, lays road

Showing the way

After a series of hurdles including allegations of land acquisition by coercion, threats from local goons and escalating costs, the road work is finally complete. Apart from the college, the road will benefit at least six villages in vicinity.

Earlier, the locals used a narrow eight kilometre mud road. Since 1960, they had been pleading with the gram panchayat, zilla panchayat and other authorities for the construction of a road. Narayanaswamy, a teacher from the government school, was at the forefront of this demand.

He approached the local MLA, MP and ministers, including the then Union railway minister, but in vain. Despite the poor connectivity, the Acharya Group set up Acharya Institutions at Soladevanahalli on a 120-acre land in 1990. The roads, however, remained the same.
The turning point came in 2000. B Premnath Reddy, Chairman, Acharya Institutions, recalls: “Our college bus crashed into a house by the side of the narrow road, after the driver lost control of the vehicle. Luckily, the occupants of the house and the students escaped with minor injuries.”

The college then approached the BWSSB, which has a pipeline in the area and maintained a small 10-foot wide mud road. Premnath requested the BWSSB to open the road to the public. The Board agreed on a monthly payment of Rs 30,000, but refused to get it asphalted. That’s when the chairman decided to get the road laid with his own funds.

He called a meeting of local leaders and land-owners from the six villages. “All of them agreed to part with a portion their land for the road. We had to shell out Rs 60 lakh for land acquisition alone. It was not smooth-sailing though.”

A local land owner moved the court alleging that Premnath was acquiring land by coercion. “Work came to a standstill for nearly two years. Also, some anti-social elements, who were not happy with the road work, threatened me and the contractor. I approached then MLA Prasanna Kumar and Transport Minister R Ashoka who told me to go ahead with the road construction without fear,” recalls Premnath.

When the project began, the road was estimated to cost about Rs.1.5 crore. But due to the delays, the cost escalated to Rs six crore by the time of its completion. The institution is now maintaining the road too.

“We have planted trees on both the sides of road, installed street lights and are paying the electricity bills too,” Premnath says.

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