Shiradi Ghat road: Wait gets longer

Crucial to linking Bengaluru with Mangaluru, the stretch may open by July-end

Shiradi Ghat road: Wait gets longer

The closure of Shiradi Ghat stretch since January 2, 2015, has brought misery to thousands of travellers from Mangaluru to Bengaluru (and vice versa), hundreds of people whose livelihood depends on petty shops and hotels besides scores of students.

Although the authorities concerned had assured that the road would be opened on June 1, 2015, there is still no sight of the work getting completed. It may take at least one or two months for the work to complete.

Ever since the stretch was closed, buses and other vehicles going to Bengaluru (or coming to Mangaluru) have been forced to ply either via Madikeri-Mysuru or Charmadi Ghat (in Chikkamagaluru district) which takes a lot of time as the Charmadi Ghat road is narrow.

Some trains run between Mangaluru and Bengaluru, but most people prefer to travel by road as trains reach Bengaluru late (after 8 am) while buses reach before 6 am.

Business has been badly affected along the stretch. Harish, who works in a hotel in Nelyadi, a village in Puttur taluk, said that business had been reduced by more than half. “Earlier, we would keep meals and snacks ready in plates so that travellers can have them quickly,” he said. “Now, forget keeping the food ready in plates, we can’t afford to cook even a few dishes as hardly few patrons come; they too are local people.”

The two petrol bunks along the stretch have been making losses. People living along the stretch between Marenahalli and Sakleshpur (about 17 kms) too have been affected as hardly few buses ply due to the closure of the ghat.

Pilgrims’ woes

Besides Mangaluru-Bengaluru travellers, others affected are pilgrims to Dharmasthala and Kukke Subrahmanya temples. They either have to travel via Madikeri or Charmadi Ghat to reach these two famous temples of coastal Karnataka. The opening of Shiradi stretch would reduce the distance to the temple by more than 50 kms.

When contacted, Deputy Commissioner A B Ibrahim said that the work on the first phase (13 kms) was in the final stages and the road might be opened for traffic by the end of July.

Time till Nov 2015

Quite interestingly, M/s Ocean Constructions directors, Abeed Ali and Inayat Ali, said that as per the contract, they had time till November 23, 2015, to complete the work and they were trying their best to “complete 18 months’ work in just six months” with the best available materials and imported machinery. “We got the approval to start the work on January 2, 2015,” they said.

“Subsequently, we imported slip form paver (worth Rs 6.9 crore) and dry lean concrete paver (worth Rs 1.6 crore) from Germany just for this project,” they said, adding that the machineries lay 700-800 metres of concrete per day against the usual 100-200 metres per day in other similar projects. In addition, they are also using geo-textile base so that the concrete lasts long, which is usually not done anywhere in India,” Ali informed.

Stating that unseasonal rains for about 20 days in April delayed the work, the brothers said that but for the rain, the work would have been over by May-end. They hope to complete the work within 10 days and curing in 21 more days. Simultaneously, the work on constructing shoulders (edges of the concrete road), crash guards and safety walls would be completed.

The work on 69 culverts (from the initially planned 29) too is complete. All that remains is work on about 2.5 kms (out of 13 kms).

A unique project

Stating that the Shiradi project was unique as the level changes every 10 metres, he said the terrain was the toughest in India, quoting Prof B B Pandey (IIT Kharagpur) and R K Jain (from Indian Roads Congress), who are the advisors/consultants for the project.

Road may be closed, after reopening

Out of the 26-km road which was planned to be concretised, 13 kms would be ready in a month or two. Work on the remaining 13 km stretch is, however, yet to begin. “Tenders have been just finalised and work may begin after monsoon,” said the Dakshina Kannada Deputy Commissioner, A B Ibrahim.

When asked whether the road will be closed again for the 13-km work, he said a decision on that would be taken after consulting the National Highway (NH) authorities. This apart, the work to convert the road between Hassan and BC Road into four lanes is also expected to begin in October (to be taken up by the National Highways Authority of India). Hence, the Shiradi stretch may be opened in a month, but the possibility of closing it again cannot be ruled out, he added.

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