The Bus Rapid Transit System (BRTS) project being implemented between Hubli and Dharwad is an example of poor planning and execution. It shows how official apathy makes people lose their faith in the best of the projects.
The World Bank-assisted Hubli-Dharwad BRTS project was mooted in 2010 by the Directorate of Urban Land Transport (DULT) to make travel between the twin cities quick, safe and enjoyable. But due to inordinate delay in its implementation, the project has turned a nightmare for over 2.2 lakh people who travel between Hubli and Dharwad everyday.
The decision of the authorities to club the BRTS project with the ongoing widening of the road between the twin cities to four lanes is the root of the problem. When the BRTS was conceived, the Rs 170-crore road widening work had already begun and a 7-km stretch was widened.
But with the decision to club them, the road widening work has been completely stopped since January.
The BRTS has failed to take off because of problems in land acquisition. With land prices in the twin cities scaling new heights each passing day, farmers are demanding high compensation, though the government is offering 1.75 times the guidance value.
As a result, commuters are forced to travel on a road full of potholes, untarred diversions and dust. This has stretched the travel time between Hubli and Dharwad, a distance of about 17 km, to over one hour during peak hours.Irked, the people of the twin cities are now demanding that the
authorities complete the four-lane project first. “Let them finish four-laning the road first and ensure smooth flow of vehicles. After that they can take up BRTS or anything else,” said Manjunath Kiresur, a building owner.
People’s representatives have also joined the chorus. Former chief minister Jagadish Shettar said, “I expressed concern when these projects were being clubbed. The BRTS authorities said the four-lane work will not be hampered. But that has happened now.’’
District In-charge Minister Santosh Lad is also not happy with the progress of the BRTS project. In fact, he took BRTS officials to task recently and instructed them to take up the ‘abandoned’ four-laning work on a priority basis.After coming under attack from all quarters, the authorities have now resumed work on the four-lane project. “We will finish the four-lane from Taj Gateway hotel in Hubli to Gandhinagar in Dharwad by December,’’ said Noor Mansur, Managing Director, Hubli-Dharwad BRTS.
He said the four-laning was stopped to avoid duplication of the shifting of utilities like water and drainage pipelines, electricity and telephone wires. “Since the BRTS is an 8-lane project, we need to shift utilities after acquiring the land. Or else, we will have to do it twice,’’ he added.