Udupi, June 07, 2018: Work between Kundapur and Goa border which started four years ago has made shoddy progress.
As against the tall claims made by the National Democratic Alliance government at the Centre of having built an average of 28 km new National Highways per day in 2017-18, work to upgrade the 189-km National Highway 66 between Kundapur and Goa border, started in 2014, has made very little progress.
While work on new major bridges across rivers on the stretch are almost completed, work on construction of carriageways is moving at a slow pace.
IRB Westcoast Tollway Pvt. Ltd., a subsidiary of IRB Infrastructure Developers Ltd., bagged the project estimated to cost Rs. 1,655 crore on Build, Own, Operate and Transfer (BOOT) basis in March 2014.
Lohith Rao, a Mangaluru-based software professional, who last week drove down to Karwar, told The Hindu that there is hardly any four-lane road available to drive on the entire 189-km stretch from Kundapur till Goa border. A major portion of the road has remained single lane, and one can hardly see any work going on, he said.
The stretch between Kundapur and Maravanthe (about 17 km) is dangerous to drive on with sudden diversions, that too, very close to major bridges, Mr. Rao said. Driving becomes too risky during the night, he added. He further noted that hardly any work was visible beyond Murdeshwar, towards Karwar. According to Ganesh Bhat, an executive with a private firm and resident of Bhatkal, there is no hope of the four-lane work getting completed in at least another year. “With the arrival of the South-West monsoon, whatever work is being done will have to be stopped,” he said.
Land acquisition : The National Highways Authority of India (NHAI), which is executing the project, has again cited land acquisition as the problem.
NHAI project director Z. Samson Vijay Kumar said about 65 hectares of land is yet to be handed over to NHAI, though it has deposited about Rs. 308 crore with the Special Land Acquisition Officer towards compensation for land acquisition.
However, Uttara Kannada Deputy Commissioner S.S. Nakul said that the demand for 65 hectares of land was in addition to land already acquired and handed over to the NHAI. Acquisition notification was issued for it about two months ago and the process is on, he said.
Court cases in connection with land acquisition could have delayed work in certain parts, he said and felt that the work might get speeded up once the monsoon gets over.