Govt plans tunnels to decongest Shiradi Ghat

The Centre is working on a proposal to construct tunnels in the Shiradi Ghat section of the Mangalore–Bangalore national highway. The Karnataka government may be asked to share the expenditure.

As the project costs over Rs 3,000 crore, the Centre is likely ask the Karnataka government to share the burden, Union Minister for Highways and Transport Oscar Fernandes, who reviewed the project with officials from the National Highway Authority of India (NHAI) here, told reporters on Saturday.

Once the ministry finalises the project, we will write to the state government asking it to share the cost, Fernandes said.

Though vehicular traffic is very high on this stretch, it may be difficult to recover the entire cost by merely collecting a toll fee, the minister said. Despite the Japan International Consultancy Agency (JICA) promising to fund the project, we have to ensure recovery of the cost, he added. According to the proposal before the ministry, five short tunnels of total 7.7 km length and high-pier bridges of total 10 km length will be built to ensure smooth and hassle-free movement of vehicles.

Despite the huge cost, building tunnels is a better option than expanding the existing highway. By building tunnels, we will not only minimise damage to the environment, but also ensure safe and hassle-free journey, Fernandes said. The tunnel will reduce the distance between Sakleshpur and Gundia to 18 km from the present 26 km. The JICA, which studied the project, had proposed to construct the tunnels.
Meanwhile, the minister said that a new two-lane national highway connecting Gulbarga to Hosur via Bellary will be constructed. Once completed, the travel time between the two destinations will be reduced to eight hours.

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