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A tale of two airport roads: one in a shambles, the other smooth as silk

The entire stretch up to Budigere Cross on Old Madras Road, which generally sees constant movement of vehicles, is more or less in the same condition: unfit for commuting.
Last Updated : 06 July 2024, 22:52 IST

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Bengaluru: A battered, poorly illuminated and garbage-littered road greets residents as they get out of the Kempegowda International Airport (KIA) on Begur Road. 

The entire stretch up to Budigere Cross on Old Madras Road, which generally sees constant movement of vehicles, is more or less in the same condition: unfit for commuting. 

What’s more, the Karnataka Road Development Corporation (KRDCL) seems to have completely abandoned the work to widen the 25-km stretch. 

On Saturday, DH conducted a reality check to assess the condition of the road between Begur and Konadasapura via Budigere, KIADB Aerospace Park and Mylanahalli. 

The entire stretch — hailed as an alternative road to the airport — was in shambles with deep potholes, incomplete roadworks at frequent intervals and covered with dust. Just outside the airport premises, a large number of cars are parked on every vacant space as drivers take time off to rest or wash their vehicles. 

Commuting becomes a nightmare, especially after sunset, as the road leading up Budigere Cross does not have a single working streetlight. 

This stretch is part of the KRDCL’s multi-crore plan of building a four-lane road totalling 155 km in the surrounding areas of Bengaluru. Although the project was tendered way back in 2017-18, the KRDCL is neither half way through nor has it completed work in critical places, which is significant traffic congestion. 

In the last six years, the KRDCL has completed the four-laning work only in certain patches, particularly close to apartment complexes and the aerospace park. Some portions of the stretch are under construction but there is no sign of the work happening.  Most stretches of the two-lane road remain untouched. 

In comparison, the National Highways Authority of India (NHAI), which took up the Satellite Town Ring Road (STRR) project just two years ago, has completed about 80 km of the six-lane road between Hoskote and Dobbspet. This has provided relief to many people heading to and from the airport as it is not just wide but the entire stretch is in good condition. 

Approximately, it takes 40 minutes to cover a distance of 29 km between Hoskote-Old Madras road interchange and the airport, which includes passing through the toll gate at Sulibele. On the other hand, travelling on Begur-Budigere Cross Road to and from the airport takes about an hour. 

Murali Govindarajulu, a resident of Whitefield, said taking Budigere Road was the best alternative to reach the airport for residents of eastern Bengaluru but it was perpetually under construction. “This is baffling. This stretch is toll-free and that’s the only advantage of taking this route,” he said, wondering what was delaying the project. He also pointed out that Vayu Vajra bus (KA 15) passes on this stretch every one hour. 

Some residents have been going through the city (via Raj Bhavan Road) to reach the airport even though it is congested. Kavitha Reddy, a resident of HSR Layout, said it takes anywhere between 1.5 hours and 2.5 hours to commute. “Whenever the airport in Hosur is ready, I believe travelling to the neighbouring state would be closer and easier to me than the Bengaluru airport,” she said. 

Land trouble

A senior KRDCL official said the project of widening the road to the airport suffered delays owing to land acquisition issues. “We had a shortage of staff, especially surveyors to complete the formalities of acquiring the properties. In the next three to four months, we hope to sort out these issues and start the work full-fledged,” Vasanth Naik, Chief Engineer at KRDCL, said. About 30 km of the 155 km of the road-widening project, he said, is facing land acquisition issues. 

Clement Jayakumar, member of the Mahadevapura Taskforce, said the KRDCL does not have a proper team for acquiring properties despite undertaking important projects in the state. “Although the engineers claim to have achieved 60% of the progress, the ground reality is different. In critical areas such as Varthur and Gunjur, which are congested, the KRDCL has not been able to widen the road. Works such as building flyovers and railway overpasses have not even begun,” he said. 

Lack of access to the Kempegowda International Airport, the third busiest airport in the country, was also the reason why parts of Bengaluru rejoiced when the Tamil Nadu government announced the plan of a building an international airport in Hosur. 

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Published 06 July 2024, 22:52 IST

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