BRTS venture turns right into a ballot subject

Hubballi: The Hubballi-Dharwad Bus Rapid Transit System (HDBRTS) project, which aims at transforming the twin cities as ‘the most livable’ and ‘sustainable’ cities by creating ‘safe, affordable and world class’ bus rapid transit infrastructure and services, has now turned into a major election issue.
The in commissioning of the project has angered the people of the twin cities and is likely to have an impact on the political prospects of leader of opposition and Hubballi-Dharwad (Central) MLA Jagadish Shettar and district minister Vinay Kulkarni.

People frequently take to Facebook, Twitter and other social media to express their ire over the delayed project which has created health hazardous like dust allergies and caused accidents too. Fed up with the insensitivity of elected representatives, the people, especially those who commute between Hubballi and Dharwad, are waiting to teach both the leaders a fitting lesson in the election. The main cause of anger among the people is that both Shettar and Kulkarni have not left any stone unturned in taking credit for the project.

Last year the Karnataka Pollution Control Board served a notice on Hubli-Dharwad Company and asked it to sprinkle water and build temporary bituminous roads to mitigate dust. In its reply, BRTS had said that water sprinkling arrangements were made on a regular basis along the project corridor and project sites. However, according to those who ply along the route, it has not been done so far.

Environmentalist Subramanya M A told TOI that the lack of unity among political parties can be blamed for the delay in BRTS works. “The work has been going on for the past seven years and is yet to be completed. I do not think that it will be completed anytime soon,” he said.

The 22.25km BRTS corridor is the first of its kind in the state. The project is expected to ease traffic and help people commute quicker between the twin cities. Once the project is completed, BRTS buses will ply on a dedicated corridor between Hosur Circle in Hubballi to Jubilee Circle in Dharwad.

The project has been the subject of controversy ever since it took off in 2012-13. It was taken up at an estimated cost of Rs 692 crore. While the World Bank has sanctioned Rs 254 crore, the state government has allocated Rs 438 crore. While the is claiming credit for sanctioning the project, the party is also blamed for the slow pace of work and skipping multiple deadlines and dust menace. Interestingly, BJP is accusing the Congress government for the slow pace of work and the dust menace. Meanwhile, the Aam Aadmi Party has been targeting both the parties for the ‘trouble’ being caused to the common people.

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