Bantwal: Union minister for roads and national highways Nitin Jairam Gadkari had visited Kalladka to take part in the annual celebrations of a private school on Dec 15, 2015.
Making use of the opportunity, just ahead of his arrival in Mangaluru, an open letter addressed to him was published in this website and a dozen others all over the world, drawing his attention to the dilapidated state of the national highway stretch between B C Road and Mani.
To ensure that things could move in the right direction, this writer mailed the letter to the personal e-mail IDs of minister Gadkari and the official IDs of the chairperson and the chief vigilance commissioner of the National Highway Authority of India (NHAI).
Tell-tale pictures of the potholes, the dust-filled surroundings of the Melkar junction and other woes were included in the letter, so that the minister would pay personal attention while travelling to Kalladka.
In the meantime, the traffic at the Melkar junction, where roads from Puttur, Thokkottu and Mangaluru joined, was causing a big headache to the public and the motorists alike. The Bantwal traffic police faced all the brunt of it for no fault of theirs.
Tell-tale pics (by Ashiq Kukkaje)
Much before the minister’s visit was announced, Bantwal traffic sub-inspector Chandrashekharaiah had already a laudable initiative of using his good offices with the municipal administration and got the junction widened and levelled with their assistance.
Pictures sent to Gadkari and the NHAI officials seem to have set the ball rolling. Exactly within a week of the letter, on Monday, Dec 21, a team of top officials landed in Melkar to study the situation.
Here again, SI Chandrashekharaih apprised NHAI executive engineer Ramesh, assistant engineer A E Ansar, assistant executive engineer Rahman and others of the condition of the junction and how the dust menace was contributing to inconvenience and illnesses. A written memorandum was also submitted to the team.
The memorandum sought immediate bitumenizing of the widened road and to lay a zebra crossing to enable pedestrians to cross the highway.
The officials assured them of remedial measures within a week. They also informed that the MESCOM had been asked to shift the electrical poles that came in the way. Apart from this, the municipal administration had been asked to construct a good bus shelter, besides three toilets for public use.
To ensure hygiene at the spot, the civic authorities have also been urged to set up litter bins. When congratulated on his initiative by this writer, sub-inspector Chandrashekharaiah said that he was happy that he could do what was expected of him as his duty. The measures could be only temporary, which could followed by the NHAI in due course.
Melkar junction in the process of widening
A panaromic view of Melkar junction after widening, with no jams seen (Pics Ashiq Kukkaje)
When a suggestion was put to him to get raised parapets laid at the junction to allow free left lanes from Kalladka direction towards Thokkottu and from Thokkottu direction towards B C Road, he said that the plan was on the cards.
All this could happen after the minister travelled up to Kalladka and the e-mail messages reached the top brass at the Delhi level.
Pity that he did not have an opportunity to travel up to Mani and beyond. Otherwise, the rest of the pothole-ridden spots between Kalladka and Mani like Kudrebettu and Soorikumer could have caught the eyes of the NHAI.
Who knows, the residents of these places and users of this stretch may have to wait for another VIP to pass through there. How long it will take is anybody’s guess.
Read the open letter to Gadkari: