Mangaluru, (The Hindu): Contract was awarded in March; contractors have stopped work for different reasons
One may have to wait for long to drive hassle-free between Bengaluru and Mangaluru as the four-laning work of National Highway 75 between Hassan and B.C. Road (near Mangaluru) has come to a halt.
The National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) had awarded the contract of constructing a four-lane concrete road in two packages — 55 km between Hassan and Maranahalli and 66 km between Addahole and B.C. Road — to Isolux Corson and Larsen and Tubro under engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) mode at a cost of Rs 400 crore and RS 821 crore, respectively, in March last.
Under EPC mode, the NHAI would pay the contractor for the work upon reaching identified benchmarks and submitting bills.
The 26-km Shiradi Ghat stretch, which has been concreted for a uniform width of 8.5 metres (two-lane), is not being made four-lane because of the ghat and forest constraints.
While the contractors were expected to complete the work within two years, the work did not progress at the estimated pace since the beginning. While tree and earth cutting works were done to some extent by L&T, very few earth-cutting work was done by Isolux in their area. At present, work by both contractors have come to a halt.
Sources in the NHAI told The Hindu that Isolux appears to have gone bankrupt. Initially, there was a delay in the Deputy Commissioner according quarrying permission that delayed the execution in Hassan district. Now that the quarrying permission is obtained, the authority would give a final chance to the contractor, failing which it would cancel the contract, sources said.
Regarding work delay in Dakshina Kannada, sources said the authority had to include three elephant underpass works between Addahole and Periyashanthi (Dharmasthala Cross) and some mitigation works, estimated to cost about Rs 130 crore that were not in the original contract. While the authority intended to do the work on its own, L&T insisted that it should also be added to the scope of the original contract, failing which the company might walk out of the it.
Discussions are on between the authority and the company, and the issue would be resolved soon, sources said.
Damaged NH stretch being restored
The National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) is restoring the battered stretch of National Highway 75 near Anemahal in Sakleshpur taluk and the work is likely to get over in a couple of days.
About 100 metres of the highway had slid at Anemahal during the heavy rain in August, leaving a very narrow stretch wherein only one vehicle can pass. Passenger vehicles, including buses, are being allowed to ply now though trucks are not being allowed.
Another 300-metre stretch near Doddatappale village under the NHAI jurisdiction too would be restored soon, sources said, and added trucks can ply along the stretch.
Truckers and entrepreneurs are mounting pressure on the government to allow truck traffic via Shiradi Ghat citing increased cost of operation because of diversion.
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