BENGALURU: Over the past seven to ten days, connectivity between two of the major cities of the state has taken a hit. While two major highways connecting the cities have been blocked due to landslides following heavy rainfall, the railways have decided to divert the route of its Bengaluru-Mangaluru train and run it with restricted speed. Though the number of commuters using air travel to Bengaluru is fewer due to a limited number of flights, ticket prices post the crisis too hasn’t helped much.
The troubles of commuters between Bengaluru and coastal cities and towns such as Mangaluru, Udupi, Bantwal, Sullia and Kasargod will continue as the Shiradi Ghat stretch — the most used highway between the two cities — will take close to a month to repair and allow vehicles. On the other hand, access from Sampaje Ghat to the coastal cities is expected to be affected anywhere from six months to a year as sections of roads have been washed away following the torrential downpour that hit Kerala and parts of Karnataka.
Dakshina Kannada Deputy Commissioner Sasikanth Sentil said the Public Works Department is working to ensure that both the roads are made accessible soon. “Shiradi Ghat might take a month to open as works are being carried out to make the roads fit for transport. Transport along Sampaje Ghat might take longer due to severity of damages on that stretch,” he said. While most vehicles are using Charmadi Ghat to reach Mangaluru from Bengaluru, heavy vehicles are using the Kudremukh-Kottigehara stretch, he said.
Hasanabba, a social worker based in Charmadi, said though heavy vehicles carrying 10 tonnes and above have not been allowed to ply in Charmadi Ghat, other vehicles were using the road. “Traffic has increased more than two times in the last 10-12 days as more people have been using this road,” he said. Due to the surge in traffic along the narrow stretch of roads between Charmadi and Kottigehara, a 10-km road in the Ghats, almost one third of the length of the road has been damaged.
Meanwhile, Union Minister D V Sadananda Gowda has written to Public Works Department Minister H D Revanna to ensure that the Shiradi Ghat road is repaired soon. “According to officials and locals, Shiradi Ghat can be repaired within a week. Problems are only in four to five locations, which has to be repaired immediately,” he added.
Air travel and railways
Though air travel and railways appear to be alternatives to tide over the connectivity crisis between parts of the state, high air fare and restricted speed of trains hasn’t helped much. Following the closure of roads, there has been demands by local elected representatives to increase the number of flights between the two cities. Considering the road traffic condition, Air India tickets have been sold out till September 27. Private carriers too are witnessing a demand. As of now, ticket prices are at Rs 7,000 for one-day advance booking and around Rs 3,700 for one-week advance booking. Meanwhile, the South Western Railway has resumed operations to Mangaluru. Trains to Mangaluru are being run in the diverted route of Shoranur-Tirupattur-Palakkad, the release added.