Mysuru: The controversial straightening or road widening project on the Hunsur Road near Jaladarshini Guest House to rectify the dangerous and accident-prone curve is back in the news after a brief lull. This time, Mysuru-Kodagu MP Pratap Simha expressing his displeasure over the way the project has been implemented.
The MP visited the place yesterday along with Chamaraja MLA L. Nagendra and pulled up the Public Works Department officials for shoddy implementation of the original plan. Alleging that Rs. 12.5 crore has been misused, he gave a deadline of one week to complete the project.
Apart from taking the officials to task, Pratap Simha has urged the State Government to order a probe into the road works. “Those who have misappropriated money in this project have to be booked and if the government does not order probe, we will have to show black flag to Chief Minister H.D. Kumaraswamy when he visits Mysuru,” the MP warned.
The original project was to straighten the steep-gradient road to prevent accidents and it involved cutting of over 100 fully-grown trees. Following opposition from the residents and environmental groups, the number of trees to be cut was reduced to six. The work was completed recently and the stretch was thrown open for traffic.
Soon after the traffic was opened, there were complaints of shoddy works and many residents including youth associations alleged that the officials have misappropriated money in the project. Yesterday too, Paduvarahalli Srigandha Yuvakara Sangha staged a demonstration in front of Jaladarshini Guest House demanding a thorough probe. They claimed that the widening of the road had considerably narrowed the pedestrian footpaths on either side of the road.
Following complaints, Pratap Simha visited the place yesterday along with the project map and the approved project sketches. He questioned the officials of the National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) and the Public Works Department for failing to execute the project according to the original plan.
“The funds for the project were released under the Central Road Fund and I will not allow an investment of Rs. 12.5 crore by the central government to go into the drain without the project having achieved the desired results,” the MP said. He added that to widen a 200-metre stretch, the authorities have spent Rs. 12.5 crore. “It is clear that money has been misused,” the MP said.
The MP was upset after seeing the road was in same condition as before. “I see no change on the road apart from the asphalting and extension of the road by two feet on each side. This has inconvenienced pedestrians since the pavement has been shortened. Pedestrians, particularly students of new Maharani’s College are forced to use the busy road, risking their lives” he said.
The actual intention of the project was to prevent accidents on this section and nothing has changed. “The original project was to use a part of the property owned by University of Mysore and cut a few trees to make the road safe for motorists. Though there was opposition to cut trees, we decided to go ahead with the plan to reduce deaths on the stretch,” he said and added that it was unfortunate that the implementing authorities have failed to execute the project.
“The authorities closed the road for three months and have done superficial works. I will not allow this to happen. The former Karnataka PWD Minister Dr. H.C. Mahadevappa must answer the public,” he said. Targeting former NHAI Engineer Govindaraju for sub-standard works, the MP directed the present NHAI Assistant Executive Engineer H.P. Chandrappa and Engineer Yoganand to stick to the original plan.