Udupi, March 4,2016 : The people of Kidiyoor, Kadekar and Ambalpady villages, who have come together under the banner of Rashtriya Heddari Ambalpady Raste Balakedara Hitarakshana Samiti, staged a protest demanding an underpass on National Highway 66 at Ambalpady Junction here on Mar 3, Thursday.
Addressing the protest, P. Sripati Tantri, convener of the samiti, said that many parts of the Surathkal-Kundapur National Highway 66 had been widened into four-lane. As a result, a serious bottle neck of vehicles on National Highway 66 was created. It has become difficult for both vehicles and pedestrians from the villages of Kidiyoor, Kadekar and Ambalpady to reach Udupi via Ambalpady Junction.
As per the original plan of the National Highways Authority of India (NHAI), an underpass was to have been built at the Ambalpady Junction. But this plan was given up at the insistence of K. Jayaprakash Hegde, former MP, who, in a letter to the then Union Minister for Road Transport and National Highways Oscar Fernandes in February 2012, sought a foot-overbridge instead of an underpass.
Hence, the proposal for the underpass was dropped without consulting the residents of the area. This meant that the vehicles would have to travel nearly six kilometres more to enter Udupi, which was just about 500 metres away via Ambalpady Junction. This move was not just unscientific but also anti-people.
The samiti had written to both Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Union Minister for Road Transport and Highways Nitin Gadkari. The Prime Minister’s Office had acknowledged the receipt of the letter. “We hope the Centre will sanction an underpass here,” Prof. Tantri said.
B.R. Shetty, Abu Dhabi-based businessman and former vice-president of Udupi Town Municipal Council, said that an underpass at Ambalpady Junction was essential as a lot of farm workers, labourers and many students went from these three villages to Udupi.
Since there was heavy vehicular movement on the National Highway, an underpass was essential. He too had written to PM Modi and Minister Gadkari seeking an underpass there, he said.
Sugunendra Tirtha Swami of Puttige Mutt said that an underpass was essential not just at Ambalpady Junction but also at Katapadi village. The high density of vehicles made an underpass an absolute necessity. He said that he too used the National Highway 66, hence he was participating in the protest, he said.
Altaf Ahmed and Shantharaj Aithal, office-bearers of the samiti, and N.B. Vijay Ballal, managing trustee of Ambalpady Temples, were present.