When the activist was joined by more people, the NHAI filled the potholes on the highway.

Mangaluru activist stages silent protest over dilapitated national highway
news Civic Sunday, October 13, 2019 - 14:45

Plagued by the battered condition of National Highway 66 (NH-66), a 33-year old social activist Arjun Mascharenas went on a silent-solo-protest. When the protest was joined by a few others, the National Highway Authority of India (NHAI) got its act together and repaired the damaged stretch at Nanthoor Circle towards Mangaluru city, but activists are not content.

“It was firstly the lethargic attitude of the government agencies to repair the roads that forced me to launch a sit-in at the Nanthoor circle. I appealed to the Mangaluru City Corporation (MCC) and NHAI several times to repair the road, but to no avail. That’s why started my silent protest,” Arjun said.

A resident of Derebail, Arjun said that he was among the several other motorists who, during their routine commute to the city via NH66, had to suffer the dilapidated road.

“They completed a round of repairs on the same road just eight months ago. The dust emanating from the road and the potholes make it difficult to navigate and damage the vehicle as well. So many accidents take place. It is just by motorist’s sheer luck that many more accidents are avoided. Imaging this is the condition of a national highway,” he said.

With a facemask, bag and a bottle of water – Arjun began his agitation within the parameters of the Nanthoor circle at 10 am on Saturday. Throughout the day, Arjun planted placard messages like ‘Bad Roads No Vote’, ‘Is it Too Much to ask for a Good Road?’, ‘Make Mangalore Pothole Free’ and ‘Safe Road Save Lives’. Even traffic cops acknowledged and complimented the peaceful protest, Arjun said.  

Over the course of the day – he was joined by others. “By 3 pm, more people parked their vehicles and arrived to join the protest. It was then that the NHAI authorities brought along few trucks and workers and started to fill the potholes with gravel,” Roopan Fernandes, one of the people who joined Arjun, said.

Other social activists at the location also questioned junior NHAI officials over why they charge toll on highways in Dakshina Kannada district if they cannot build a road with a standard lifespan.

According to Arjun, he listed 15 locations within Mangaluru city limits where infrastructure is bad and handed over the names to the Mangaluru City Corporation (MCC). These include Service Bus Stand Road, Cascia School (Jeppu), Central Market, Falnir Road, Maryhill, Bendoorwell, Old Bus Stand, Bondel Junction Falnir, KSRTC Bus Stand, Light House Hill Road, Ashok Nagar, Urva Stores, and Hampanakatta.

“These are the identified black spots in the city where the road infrastructure is horrible and requires immediate attention,” he said.

At about 4 pm, even as the NHAI officials were busy filling the pothole – the activist handed them a memorandum demanding repair at Pumpwell circle, Padil, Kuloor and Surathkal circle.

Speaking to The News Minute, a traffic constable manning the Nathoor junction said that improper infrastructure around Nanthoor is even a major concern. “There have been several major and minor accidents during peak hours. In most cases, due to the slope and uneven road, the vehicles end up scraping against each other. Due to inaction, several times we have filled the potholes so that accidents are avoided. Else, there will be a traffic pile-up,” the constable said.

According to Arjun, the repeated failure of protesters in demanding proper public infrastructure is the lack of follow-up on genuine demands. “The gravel will be washed away with another spell of rain. We want a permanent solution. We will once again meet the MCC and the NHAI authorities on Tuesday. If they fail to adhere to our demand, we will continue similar agitation from time to time,” he said.

Story by Story Infinity (Subs and Scribes Media Ventures LLP.)

Become a TNM Member for just Rs 999!
You can also support us with a one-time payment.