Mangaluru, May 21, 2019: Agumbe Ghat, a crucial link connecting Udupi and Dakshina Kannada with Shivamogga, Davangere and Chikkamagaluru districts, for passenger vehicle traffic has brought a sense of relief to residents of these districts and many road tourists right now.
Road embankment on certain stretches of the ghat road, including the sunset point and hairpin bend 7 were damaged during last monsoon. The National Highways division of the Public Works Department, which maintains the ghat road, had banned vehicular traffic during the monsoon and opened the ghat road after taking up temporary restoration works.
The department again closed the ghat stretch for all kinds of vehicles on April 1 for permanent restoration works for one month, which got extended for another fortnight. Sources in the department said that permanent restoration works could not be executed as planned as the Forest Department did not give clearance.
Yet, the department has restored the embankment near the sunset point with concrete structure; but it could not expand the small stretch facilitating movement of two mini-buses as a few trees had to be pruned. The stretch at the seventh hairpin bend saw only strengthening of the temporary restoration work; again due to the Forest Department’s reported objection.
B. Ravi, Assistant Executive Engineer of Public Works Department, Sringeri region, said that the department had planned to improve every curve of the ghat road for smooth turns. As of now, works executed are sufficient for vehicular movement; still permanent restoration works are pending on some stretches, including the seventh hairpin bend.
Hoteliers and shopkeepers between Tirthahalli in Shivamogga district and Hebri in Udupi district are the affected lot as they completely lost business during the ghat’s closure.
A hotelier at the bus stand in Agumbe, said that it was unfortunate that the ghat road was closed during the peak season when thousands of tourists travelled via Agumbe between pilgrim places such as Horanadu, Sringeri, Dharmasthala, Udupi and Kollur. What prevented the authorities to execute restoration during the off-season, many ask.
The closure of the ghat road had also severely affected people from getting healthcare facilities at KMC, Manipal, which is the only affordable and large healthcare facility in the region.