Mangaluru, Jan 15, 2019: Members of the Congress on Jan 14, Monday launched a three-day padayatra from Nelyadi to BC Road on National Highway 75 urging the Union government to resume the highway widening and upgrading works between Addahole and BC Road. Raising the slogan “Rashtriya heddari poornagolisi, janara jeeva ulisi” (Complete national highway work, save people’s life).
Speaking to the gathering before the padayatra, the former district in-charge Minister B. Ramanath Rai said that the National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) has stopped the four-lane works on a stretch of about 65 km purportedly due to financial constraints. Incomplete works are posing a threat to heavy traffic on the highway. If works are not resumed, the life of people travelling on the stretch would be at risk, especially in the coming rainy season.
Congress leader Rai said that the United Progressive Alliance government mooted the project of widening NH 75 between Hassan and BC Road in 2014.
The contract for widening the stretches between BC Road and Addahole and from Maranahalli to Hassan had been awarded to Larsen and Toubro. Now, the company has withdrawn from the project.
He said that Infrastructure Leasing and Financial Services Limited (IL & FS), a non-banking finance company, lends financial support to highway projects in the country. It is said that the NHAI owes Rs. 16,000 crore to IL & FS, Mr. Rai said.
In addition, he said, the NHAI did not have money to pay IL & FS. It has come in the way of continuing the highway widening works between Addahole and BC Road. He said that MP Nalin Kumar Kateel has not taken the matter seriously.
Ivan D’Souza and K. Harish Kumar, MLCs, J.R. Lobo, T. Shankuntala Shetty, Vinay Kumar Sorake, former MLAs, spoke.
The padayatra on Monday halted at Uppinangady. It would halt at Mani on Tuesday and conclude at BC Road on Wednesday.
Meanwhile, the Congress virtually launched during the padayatra its campaign for the coming Lok Sabha election by projecting the abandoned highway project as an election issue.
It also raised the matter of the Union government’s move to merge Vijaya Bank, which took birth in Dakshina Kannada, with Bank of Baroda.
Minister for Urban Development and district in-charge U.T. Khader said that the Union government is not discussing much on issues related to students, youth, unemployment and women in Parliament.