Mysore/Mysuru: What was meant to be an Economic Corridor that would herald progress, the 10-lane Mysuru-Bengaluru Expressway project has turned into a battleground of sorts between political rivals BJP and Congress. At ground zero, these political opponents have been taking pot-shots at each other to take credit for the project.
Two days before Prime Minister Narendra Modi is slated to dedicate the Expressway at Gejjalagere near Mandya, the BJP and the Congress locked horns over credit for the project. The Congress is attempting to steal the limelight from the BJP which is aiming to make inroads into the Vokkaliga heartland of Mandya belt, focussing on the development plank and citing the example of the Expressway project.
Walking on the 118-km Expressway for about 500 metres near Siddalingapura this morning, former PWD Minister Dr. H.C. Mahadevappa, his followers and members of the Congress party gave full credit to former PM Manmohan Singh, former UPA Government, former CM Siddharamaiah and former Union Minister Oscar Fernandes for the project and dismissed the efforts of MP Pratap Simha, Union Transport Minister Nitin Gadkari, Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the NDA Government.
“It is our project and the BJP, the NDA and the MP have done nothing,” said a dismissive Mahadevappa, speaking to reporters at a private hotel after his walk. “The UPA Government changed and whoever would have governed India after the UPA would have completed the project. There is nothing special in it. The Congress and the UPA are the brains of the project,” he said.
Releasing a press statement with lots of dates and other technical details, Dr. Mahadevappa said that the earlier State Highway 17 that connected Mysuru and Bengaluru was upgraded to a National Highway on 4.3.2014 during UPA-2 and a Detailed Project Report (DPR) was prepared to further upgrade the Highway.
“The new Project Coordinator Office for the Expressway was opened at Ramanagara and initially the Government of Karnataka gave Rs. 20 lakh to open the Office. Later, the Government of India reimbursed the Rs. 20 lakh in 2017. Land acquisition was initiated during 2015-16,” Mahadevappa said.
Dismissing the claim of the BJP that the project was taken up exclusively by the National Highways Authority of India (NHAI), the former PWD Minister said that the State Government (Congress) had a major role to play in the land acquisition, project planning, traffic analysis and data collection.
“The project was taken up by the UPA as per the DPR and the initial estimate was Rs. 3,000 crore. “The BJP escalated the cost to Rs. 9,551 crore and it will take Rs. 12,000 crore to fully complete the project,” Mahadevappa said. He, however, did not elaborate if the UPA Government could have completed the project with Rs. 3,000 crore.
The Congress team said that the toll from Bengaluru to Nidaghatta has been fixed at Rs. 135 and till Mandya it is Rs. 165. “As per the NHAI notification, the toll for one side is Rs. 300 and a to and fro journey will cost Rs. 600. In fact, the toll must not be higher than Rs. 120 on one side,” Mahadevappa said.
He added that the project was being inaugurated in a hurry. “Let them provide entry and exit points at all towns. Here they have favoured one hotel near Siddalingapura and provided a direct entry and exit while they have not provided similar facility to farmers despite protests and demands,” Mahadevappa alleged.
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