Roads have come on centre-stage in public domain, particularly in Karnataka, for all bad reasons. Sources in the Government often make it a point to inform the people, mostly through print media, about roads across the State, dwelling on length in kilometres added to the existing network, widening some stretches, both intra-city and inter-city, raising the status of some roads from State Highway to that of National Highway, funds estimated to meet the cost of new roads as well as completed projects and so on, not to forget the cost overrun due to delay in expediting the project, apart from the all-too-familiar factors which don’t require to be mentioned explicitly. Even as the government persists with the above practice, the road-users, again through the columns of dailies, have not lagged behind in highlighting the pathetic state of both old roads and the newly-laid stretches, with reference to the myriad quality parameters, not conforming to the norms prescribed by the Indian Road Congress.
Among the 100-plus government-funded Corporations and similar bodies in the State is also a less-known Karnataka Road Development Corporation Limited (KRDCL) with the vision of providing better road network for faster economic growth. The public perception of the State witnessing the much-claimed economic growth, in spite of unmotorable stretches on the road network is common knowledge, showing the extent to which the vision of KRDCL has dimmed.
While the government cannot be denied a sense of pride for its achievements in the road sector, people have not ceased raising their voices against the apathy of the official machinery in providing safe-to-commute roads in the State. Many public-spirited citizens have even taken the trouble of counting the cavities, universally described as potholes, on the roads, streets, lanes and bylanes all over the State. Mysuru’s roads are reportedly pock-marked with several thousand cavities on their surface, many of them qualified to be described or rechristened as crators, such as seen in pictures of the Moon. The Minister with the road portfolio, the bureaucrats overseeing the road construction projects costing astronomical amounts drawn from the exchequer and the engineers actually on the job-at-site are unfazed both by their virtually uncivil act of not doing their duty to the citizens and the complaining public.
Figures of funds consumed in the feverish activity of road construction across the land, as reported by the media, have crossed stunning levels. The case of road-straightening project, taken up recently in Mysuru, involving just 400 metres at an estimated cost of Rs. 12 crore takes the cake. Curve has joined the cavities on Mysuru’s roads, leaving the road-users to fend for themselves.