BENGALURU: The Bengaluru-Mysuru Expressway project, which has an ambitious goal of connecting the twin cities within 90 minutes, is likely to get delayed further.
Construction activity along the route is facing massive problems from a good chunk of property owners who have already been paid compensation for their land.
For the last ten days, work has come to a standstill in many portions along the route, particularly at Bidadi and Mandya, say sources.
The nearly Rs 7,000-crore project being undertaken by the National Highway Authority of India has been split into two phases for execution: 56.2 km from Bengaluru to Nidaghatta in Mandya district and 61 km from Nidaghatta to Mysuru.
It initially encountered major problems in land acquisition from the forest department and private landowners but most of the required land was acquired by April 2018.
Construction work by the outsourced contractor finally began on May 14, 2019, for Phase-I, which has a deadline of November 2021.
The Phase-I project’s main components are a 4.42-km elevated highway and two bypass roads at Bidadi and Ramanagara.
“A sum of Rs 2,190 crore is the construction cost while the land acquisition cost has been pegged at Rs 1,594 crore. The Competent Authority of Land Acquisition has already paid landowners up to Rs 1,230 crore,” said a source.
The vital part of the project are the bypass roads.
“Land comprising over 200 survey numbers has been acquired from five villages to put in place the 6 km of Bidadi bypass road. Payment has been made in 99 per cent of the cases. It is a handsome compensation which provides the land losers three times the market value of the land,” the source said.
Construction work began smoothly two months ago and made some progress. However, of late some landowners feel they ought to get more compensation, may be four times their land cost, he added.
“Construction has not made any progress along the stretch for over a week now. Landowners in groups protest any kind of work that takes place. Workers begin construction each day and are forced to stop immediately,” another source said.
“Some of the landowners have strong political connections too,” he added.
The project also needs to make a few modifications in design as villagers insist on additional under passes. “Bus bays have not been planned in the original design and hence all the bus shelters proposed in both phases need to be converted into Bays now,” the source said.
A similar problem is taking place for Phase-II where landowners from three villages - Indavalu, Sundahalli and Kalenahalli - in Mandya district and Gejjalagere in Maddur taluk are refusing to part with their properties.
Unless the state government asserts itself and ensures some kind of protection for the construction work to go ahead, it is set for massive delays, the source said.
The District commissioners of Ramanagara and Mandya were not reachable despite many calls.