Industry bodies express concern over connectivity collapse between Mangaluru and Bengaluru

AJ Vinayak Mangaluru | Updated on July 23, 2021

Following the the landslide at Shiradi ghat section of National Highway-75

Industry bodies from coastal Karnataka have expressed concern over the collapse of critical road infrastructure connecting Mangaluru to rest of the State, especially Bengaluru. This follows the landslide at Shiradi ghat section of National Highway(NH) 75 (which connects Mangaluru to Bengaluru) on July 22 due to the heavy rainfall in the ghat region.

Isaac Vas, President of Kanara Chamber of Commerce and Industry (KCCI), told BusinessLine that industries from coastal Karnataka, especially those from Mangaluru region, are marooned now as some of the vital roads connecting Mangaluru with rest of the State are blocked.

A stretch of the road on Shiradi ghat section caved in on July 22 leading to the closure of traffic on that route. Though the Sampaje ghat section on Madikeri-Mangaluru route is open, the movement of cargo is not allowed on that route. He said the Charmadi ghat section on Mangaluru-Chikmagaluru route has narrow curves making it impossible for the movement of heavy vehicles on it.

In addition to this, the Konkan railway network connecting Mangaluru with Mumbai is also affected due to the heavy rains and flood in Maharashtra. With this, there is hardly any connectivity with the rest of the State, he said.

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The KCCI has sent an ‘SOS’ representation to the PMO and to Nitin Gadkari, Union Minister of Road Transport and Highways, to temporarily restore the connectivity to avoid the mounting chaos and hardships to the public and to the industries in the region.

CII concerned

Terming this development as a matter of grave concern, Jeevan Saldanha, Chairman of the Mangaluru chapter of CII (Confederation of Indian Industry), told BusinessLine that CII has also sent a representation to Nitin Gadkari in this regard.

Saldanha said there is a disruption of traffic movement to the New Mangalore Port because of the closure of the ghat section.

Highlighting the importance of connectivity to New Mangalore Port, he said there is a diversion of cargo from the hinterland to Tuticorin and Chennai ports because of this. Though NMPT has one of the fastest turnaround times for vessels among major ports, cargo movement is affected due to the bottleneck at the Shiradi ghat, he said.

NH 75 crucial link

Vas said NH-75 is most critical, and it serves as a lifeline to the economic activities of the three districts of coastal Karnataka and to the export-import trade. Exim shipments in containers and bulk from across the hinterlands -- right from Bengaluru to Tumakuru, Kunigal, Hassan, Chickmagalur, Kushalnagar and Mysuru -- use New Mangalore Port.

In addition, LPG is transported to the hinterland daily through this route. Approximately 150 bullet tankers supply LPG to Karnataka, Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh through this route. “If this road is disconnected, it disrupts the entire supply chain of LPG,” he said.

As a result, there will be a shortage of LPG and agricultural products. Consequently, farmers' livelihoods will also be affected. He said the total industry of exim shipments will also be disrupted, resulting in loss to the country and hardship to the common man.

He said NH-75 is also of strategic importance to India’s interests due to the presence of Mangalore Refinery and Petrochemicals Ltd (MRPL), Indian Strategic Petroleum Reserves Limited (ISPRL), Naval Base at Karwar and the upcoming Indian Coast Guard Academy, and other important assets in the region.

Vas said the Shiradi ghat section on NH-75 has been reconstructed for the past 10 years. However, nothing worthwhile has happened to date. “We have conveyed this to the Union Ministry of Road Transport and Highway time and again. But unfortunately, little action has been initiated,” he said.

Tunnel project

Jeevan Saldanha urged the Government to expedite the tunnel project through the Shiradi ghat. He said the Government has announced a fresh DPR for the tunnel project.

“We kindly request that this project be expedited so that there is uninterrupted movement of people and cargo to and from the Shiradi ghat through the year, especially during monsoon,” he said.

There is an essential need to have a rail link through the same tunnel or through a parallel tunnel, for both goods and passenger movement as the current rail line has a steep gradient and the rail traffic movement is very slow during the best of weather and with repeated disruptions through the monsoon due to landslides with grave danger of loss of life, he said.

Published on July 23, 2021

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