Kheny offers to build Shiradi tunnel road

Palemar to take up NICE chiefs proposal with CM after National Youth Festival concludes

The State government is contemplating exploring the possibility of allowing Ashok Kheny, the promoter of the NICE project, to build a tunnel road in the Shiradi Ghat section.

Driving through the existing national highway connecting Sakaleshpur and Mangalore via Shiradi Ghat is a nightmare as there is little semblance of a road along the stretch.

According to Ports Minister J Krishna Palemar, the Shiradi Ghat needs immediate attention.

“Kheny has come forward to build the tunnel road in the Ghat section, on public-private partnership. It will have to be a toll road like any national highway. A tunnel road is preferred in a ghat section for environmental reasons,” he said.

He said he is yet to discuss Kheny’s proposal with Chief Minister D V Sadananda Gowda.

“I will take up the issue with the chief minister soon after the ongoing youth festival in Mangalore concludes,” he said.

The National Highway Authority of India (NHAI) is also planning a four-lane road in the Ghat section.

“If a tunnel road has to be built, we need to seek the Union government’s permission. It is going to be a long process to select the kind of road we should go for. We can have either of the roads - tunnel or the widened national highway,” Palemar, who is also the minister in charge of Dakshina Kannada district, said.

Kheny said he was not only keen on building the road in the Ghat section, but also ready to take up road projects in many districts.

“I have already informed the BJP government that I am interested in constructing 2,500 km of road from various districts to Bangalore. In the ghats section, it is better to go for tunneling than cutting trees for road widening. It also helps in shortening the travel distance. The government need not spend a penny for any of the road proposals I have submitted,” he said.

Official sources said the NHAI had already prepared a detailed project report on upgrading the existing road between Hassan bypass and Shiradi on a PPP model.

Construction of a six-lane road from Bangalore to Nelamangala (19.5 km) has been completed, and the four-lane work is on between Devihalli (after Kunigal) and Hassan (73 km). Construction work is yet to be taken up from Hassan to BC Road (Bantwal Cross Road, 18 km from Mangalore) via Shiradi Ghat.

There will be three toll collection points between Bangalore and Mangalore. Already, toll is being collected at Nelamangala and Devihalli.

K S Krishna Reddy, Chief Engineer, PWD (National Highway zone) said land acquisition for widening the road near Sakaleshpur was almost over.  But it is not known when the work will begin. The project will be on the PPP model.

To a question why the Ghat section road was in a pathetic state despite the Centre and the State sanctioning funds, Reddy said: “The PWD is maintaining the road which belongs to the NH. The money is spent on maintenance and not upgrading the roads. In 2011, the Centre sanctioned Rs 42 lakh and the State Rs five crore for the maintenance,” he said.

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