Mangaluru, April 23, 2017: The feverish trend to widen the national highways on the coast in Karnataka, into four and six lanes, NHAI appears to have ignored the safety of pedestrians and local traffic when the highway passes through inhabited zones. Of the 6,500-km NHs in Karnataka, about 2,000 km have been made four/six lane.
It also appears that NHAI was wary of the cost involved in providing underpasses for safe crossing of pedestrians, cattle and smaller vehicles of these habitations. Because, every such structure would have added a couple of crore rupees to the project cost.
Flyovers, bypasses or underpasses have been provided only in major towns or cities where the four-lane highways pass through the State, with an exception of NH 48 (Bengaluru-Pune) and NH 44 (Hyderabad-Bengaluru-Hosur). Surface crossing with U-turn facility for vehicles has been provided wherever highways slice through habitations.
On the other hand, when NHAI plans pedestrian/cattle underpasses (PUP/CUP) at human habitations, the authority would come under pressure from vested interests to relocate the structure, for various reasons, including loss of business.
PUP/CUP should be the preferred facility at human habitations for safe crossing as surface crossing of four/six lane roads is always dangerous, says senior IPS officer M.A. Saleem. He says people take time to learn road negotiating skills, while crossing roads with farm animals is always dangerous. Residents of areas abutting four-lane roads need time to come to terms with the seamless traffic moving on the widened roads, by which time many lives would have been lost, he adds.
Take the example of the 150-km NH 75 from Nelamangala to Hassan, bypasses are provided at Kunigal and Channarayapatna, while a couple of underpasses are provided with its junction with State highways. NH 75’s crucial junctions with roads leading in to and out of Hassan city have not been provided under/overpass even as en-route villages are bereft of PUC/CUP.
Sources in NHAI said safety measures would be enhanced on NH 75 between Hassan and Bellur Cross at a cost of Rs. 423 crore for which tenders are being finalised.