The 45-km Sakleshpur Ghat stretch on the Bangalore-Mangalore NH48 is riddled with potholes,some as deep as three to four inches and as wide as three feet.
The treacherous stretch winding from Sakleshpur through Gundiya to Shiradi Ghat sees a lot of movement of goods and passenger vehicles and fuel containers. But it is poorly maintained,with no streetlights or railing a must on muddy terrains where vehicles can skid and fall into 50-70 metre ditches.
On any night,close to a hundred fuel tankers,buses,cars and other vehicles proceed with caution on this road,driving as if in a convoy.
It is one of the most dangerous roads. There is no mobile network. Access to emergency services and police is limited. If a bus breaks down,the traffic will come to a halt, said Sadhananda Chatra,general secretary of a bus owners association in Mangalore.
Passengers travelling from north Karnataka to Mangalore,Udupi and Kasargod know the perils of this road. On a bus to Udupi,Manjunath Shenoy,who is accompanying his aged mother Kusuma on a pilgrimage,says she has constantly complained of backache and has been restless.
We have been making this journey regularly for almost seven years and the road hasnt improved.
Every year,the monsoon wrecks the road passing through the Western Ghats and the highway authority fills the potholes. Since 2008,the last time extensive repairs were carried out,the National Highway Authority of India (Mangalore division) claims to have spent Rs 6 crore on repairs. But travellers say a permanent solution must be found and the road relaid.
Every time a minister visits,he promises to take up the issue but there has been no action, says Vishwanath K,who lives in Nyandahalli,a village off the road.
Locals blame the condition of the road on the mining spree the state saw during 2005-2008. Hundreds of overloaded mining trucks passed through the area to the shipping port in Mangalore, Vishwanath says.
Earlier this year,Union Minister for Road Transport and Highways Oscar Fernandes said the NHAI would soon implement a Rs 3,000-crore Shiradi ghat tunnel project that will provide passengers relief from the 60-plus hairpin bends and cut travel time. However,the project is yet to materialise.