In run up to polls in Karnataka, politics heats up over Bengaluru-Mysuru expressway 

Lakshmana Venkat Kuchi

Only the other day, Prime Minister Narendra Modi inaugurated the Bengaluru-Mysuru expressway that promises to cut travel time between the two cities significantly besides adding to the ease and comfort of the ride.  The expressway is expected to cut the travel time to 75 minutes from the present 180 minutes it takes on the highway that passes through the iconic Ramanagaram where the film Sholay was shot. 

Incidentally, a few parts of the area where some of the scenes were shot had to be dug up to make the expressway, but the Gabbar’s den and other important places remain intact. 

Now politics is heating up the expressway with the opposition questioning the “exclusion” of the poorer locals from benefitting from the expressway and the Congress hitting out at the government and the Prime Minister for inaugurating an “incomplete project” which may still take six months to eight months to complete.

Former Public Works minister of the Congress, HC Mahadevappa and Karnataka Pradesh Congress Committee spokesperson M Lakshman told media persons that at several places civil works and underpasses were yet to be completed. As against 34 underpasses, only 22 were complete and against 12 overpasses only six have been completed, they alleged. Besides, unscientific planning and alignment of the expressway could turn a killer, the Congress leaders said expressing concern. 

Now, if the Congress thus attacked the Basavaraj Bommai government and the Prime Minister, the Janata Dal (Secular) president and former Chief Minister HD Kumaraswamy said that the expressway would not benefit people living in the towns and villages along the road that include Mandya.

“Is the road beneficial to the people of Ramanagara, Channapatna, Maddur and Srirangapatna? The truth is no. The highway is a death knell to the people of Mandya and its economy,” the former Chief Minister who also represents the Ramanagara constituency said. 

More than 2,600 small and medium businesses, including hotels, petrol pumps and jaggery units will be hit, affecting the livelihood of about 6,000 families. What is the alternative to these affected families?,” the former Chief Minister questioned in a tweet.

“While the old highway was a lifeline for lakhs of people in Mandya and Ramanagara districts, the new expressway will benefit a few,” he said alleging that “It has become an ATM for BJP leaders.”

On the expressway, on Monday there were snarls and protests right from the morning as road users were asked to pay a huge toll of Rs 130 that many did not want to pay all of a sudden. Local television channels were full of visuals from the highway where angry people were being diverted to the service road, which means they will have to spend that much time on the road. 

Now, this is what the Congress and the Janata Dal (S) workers are going to exploit in the region that was visited by the Prime Minister the day before when he came to inaugurate the Expressway.

The post In run up to polls in Karnataka, politics heats up over Bengaluru-Mysuru expressway  appeared first on News24 English.

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