13,000 km of rural roads to get facelift

IN BAD SHAPE: Karnataka has 1.90 lakh km of roads in rural areas. Of them, about 4,000 km have been handed over to the Public Works Department for upkeep. DH FILE PHOTO

While Chief Minister H D Kumaraswamy has fast-tracked ongoing highway projects, the government is readying a plan to re-asphalt 13,000 km of rural roads across the state at an estimated cost of Rs 1,950 crore.

These are the roads that were laid more than a decade ago and fall under the purview of the Rural Development and Panchayat Raj (RDPR) department.

“About 13,000 km of roads that were built 10-12 years ago need resurfacing over the next two years,” RDPR Minister Krishna Byre Gowda told DH. Karnataka has 1.90 lakh km of roads in rural areas. Of them, about 4,000 km have been handed over to the Public Works Department for upkeep.  

According to the minister, the roads that need re-asphalting were laid under the Pradhan Mantri Gram Sadak Yojana and the state’s own Namma Grama Namma Raste project. Resurfacing these roads will cost Rs 15 lakh per km. “If we don’t resurface them, an asset that was created will be lost. To reconstruct a road, it costs Rs 75 lakh per km. But resurfacing will require about Rs 15 lakh and we can ensure longevity for five years. Otherwise, the investment we made years ago will be in vain,” he explained.

Kumaraswamy has already set a 2019 deadline for the National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) to complete ongoing highway projects spanning around 4,000 km. This includes a 283-km-long satellite town ring road for Bengaluru. In all, highway projects worth Rs 37,000 crore are underway in the state.

Gowda said his department was “actively considering” many technological interventions to improve the life of rural roads. “We’re considering the addition of plastic to asphalt and some chemical or organic compounds that can be added to the soil itself. There are 6-7 technological interventions we are looking at to improve road life,” he said.

Gowda, however, said there was no plan to adopt urban-centric measures such as whitetopping. “We are not in a position to take up an urban model to a rural setting. Given our scale and resource availability, something like whitetopping is not viable,” he said.

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13,000 km of rural roads to get facelift

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