By P.T. Bopanna
Most of the roads in and around Madikeri, the district headquarters of Kodagu (Coorg) in Karnataka, considered as the homestay capital of India, have started developing cracks, making it unsafe for movement of vehicles.
The main cause for the damage of roads was last year’s unprecedented floods which triggered landslides and washed away portions of state and national highways. Instead of repairing the roads by building retaining walls and reconstructing the damaged roads, the government agencies merely placed sandbags to prop up the roads. This was nothing but criminal negligence on the part of the Karnataka government, as huge contributions were received for reconstruction of Kodagu.
The latest road to be damaged was Madikeri-Gaddige-Sampigekatte Road on the outskirts of the town which was visited by Kodagu DC Annies K. Joy (in picture).
Rathan Kilar, an old resident of Madikeri said: “August 2018 heavy rains and under water pressure has created more technical challenges of century old Madikeri- Gaddige- Sampigekatte Road. Redesigning of this portion of Road might be the permanent solution.”
The first road to develop cracks this rainy season was the Madikeri-Mangaluru Road at Katakeri near Madikeri. The authorities had carried out ‘patch work’ repair on the highway damaged during last year’s landslides. Last year, landslides had occurred on 25 locations on Sampaje Ghat. Stretches of roads were washed away due to flash floods on four locations including Jodupala, Madenadu and Monnangeri. The authorities had carried out temporary repairs to facilitate movement of vehicles, instead of building new road. In the picture, workers are cementing the cracks.
What is worrying the residents of Madikeri is the precarious condition of the hillock in the heart of the town where the old private bus-stand was located. A landslip had damaged the bus-stand last year. The structure was bulldozed to make for ‘Madikeri Square’. But work on the retaining wall to prevent further erosion of the hillock was delayed for nine months. Due to the delay in building the retaining wall, loose mud has begun giving way from the hillock (file picture).
Another major highway which has developed crack is the Madikeri-Somwarpet Road near Rajeshwari School. Here too the authorities had placed sandbags to restore the road, instead of rebuilding the damaged road (in picture).
It is feared that once the rains intensify in the coming weeks, there could be further damages to the road infrastructure which has been rendered weak by last year’s floods.
Kodagu’s irresponsible Lok Sabha member Pratap Simha has been lobbying for six-lane highway through Kodagu, without bothering to study the condition of the existing road network which is in a precarious condition. The immediate priority of Simha should be to strengthen the existing roads.
I am surprised that no work for restoration has been sanctioned after last years damages. The right agency were the Border Roads Organisation who have been building and maintaining mountainous roads in the Himalayas and Eastern states.
Their reconnaissance party had visited last year but nothing was heard after that.
It is possible that HDK and Revanna did not want outside help for reasons known to them.
What was required was retaining and breast walls for supporting the hillside and proper drainage along the slopes and sides of the road.
Pratap Simha need to be taken to task for wanting six lane highways across Kodagu. He would do a big favour to the timber lobby at the cost of environment.