Bikers ride through dusty, dark tunnel to save on six kilometres

Dangerous shortcut

Bikers ride through dusty, dark  tunnel to save on six kilometres

It’s an extremely narrow tunnel built under a railway track. Just five feet high and less than five feet wide, it ends after 50 feet and lies in utter darkness even during the day. There is no ventilation to speak of. Even a short-built person will have to bend to pass through it.

But these risks do not deter hundreds of two-wheeler riders from using the tunnel as a short cut to reach Whitefield or Marathahalli every day. By taking this risk, they save on six kilometres of travel on traffic-filled roads.

On any given day, the whole tunnel remains filled with smoke emitted by two-wheelers. And then there is dust. The tunnel can accommodate only two bikes at a time.

Bikers say they have no other option. Work on an underpass (magic box) next to the tunnel began in 2012 and was to complete by June 2013. But there are no signs the underpass will be thrown open to public anytime soon.

Shankar Babu, who works as a logistics consultant, uses the tunnel every day. “It’s more like a dungeon and anything can happen anytime. A minor incident may snowball into a bigger, fatal one as bikers jostle for space, squeeze in from either side and get stuck in between,” he said. “Nobody can stay in the tunnel more than a minute or two. The dust makes it impossible to breathe.”

But Babu said he and other bikers had no other option. “This is the only shorter route to reach Whitefield or Marathahalli. Or else people from KR Puram and the surrounding areas will have to travel an extra six kilometres,” he added.

Nandish Reddy, former MLA from KR Puram, said the tunnel was built decades ago to check stagnation of rainwater. Even now, water flows through it during rains.

He said he was making efforts to ensure the underpass being built next the tunnel was opened by the middle of next year. “Work on the underpass began in 2012 and was to be completed by June 2013. But there are no signs it will get over anytime soon. We are trying to get the department concerned to complete the work by the middle of 2015,” he said.

Nagaraju Shetty, a techie from Uday Nagar who works in the ITPL, said he had been using this tunnel for over six years now.

“More and more bikers are using it every day. The government promised to build a magic box but nothing is happening. The magic box is ready but there is no progress in the work for the last past six to eight months.”

According to Shetty, Bangalore North MP and Union Minister for Law D V Sadananda Gowda had inspected the spot and ordered that the work be completed at the earliest.

But the railway track above the tunnel would make it difficult to open the underpass in a year, he added.

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