Mangaluru, Dec 16, 2015: All speculation and doubts are ending, the proposed tunnel bypass road at Shiradi Ghat becoming a reality, Union Minister for Surface Transport, Highways and Shipping Nitin Gadkari said Dec 15, Tuesday that the government will start the project probably before December 2016. Shiradi Ghat is on the NH 75 and connects Bengaluru with Mangaluru.
Union Minister Gadkari told the media that the detailed project report (DPR) for the proposed tunnel road was being done. “There will be six tunnels and 10 bridges. The project would cost Rs. 12,000 crore. I am confident of starting it before December next.” Gadkari said that it would be an important project for Karnataka.
The existing ghat stretch on the highway is 47-km long. However, the proposed tunnel bypass road is expected to be 29 km and provides seamless travel through the ghat stretch. The new project would be executed with financial assistance from the Japan International Co-operation Agency (JICA). At present, it takes seven to eight hours to travel from the port city to the capital city. When the tunnel bypass is ready, the travel time is expected to come down by an hour.
Minister Gadkari said the Centre was also planning to upgrade the Belikere port in Uttara Kannada district to handle more iron ore from Hosapete and Ballari. But the proposal of constructing Hubballi-Ankola railway line to connect the Belikere port to transport the ore easily has run into problems due to environmental issues, though his ministry was ready to invest for laying the railway line.
The Minister also said that the government was planning to build an express highway from Bengaluru to Hyderabad.
Minister Gadkari said the government had decided to relax the norms related to upgrading highways. He said that a proposal to float a road safety authority had been made before the Union Cabinet seeking its approval.
The ministry of road transport and highways (MoRTH) with its top priority to save human lives in road accidents has taken steps to set up a road safety authority. The ministry will adopt a three-pronged strategy and setting up the RSA is part of the strategy, noted Union minister for road transport and highways Nitin Gadkari. The proposal to set up the authority is before the union cabinet and will start its work soon once the cabinet approves the same, he noted.
The minister also said India witnesses 5 lakh road accidents each year and 1.50-lakh deaths. There are a lot of problems and the main reason is about ease in obtaining driving license. "We are going to form new driving centres where computerized tests will be carried out and a driver certified on that basis and driving licenses issued," he said, adding that India also faces an issue where nearly 30% of the driving licenses are fakes.
While improving the system regarding driving license, steps will also be taken to improve road engineering. Underpasses, flyovers, road kerbs will be formed in accident prone spots, he said and these will be improved from road engineering point of view. The total length of national highways in India will be increased to 1.50-lakh kms from the present 96,000-kms, he said adding this new measure will go a long way in distributing traffic and reducing accidents.