Shiradi Ghat, the crucial link between Bengaluru and the coast, will be opened for all kinds of passenger vehicles, including multi-axle buses, from Wednesday morning, Dakshina Kannada Deputy Commissioner S. Sasikanth Senthil has said.
He told reporters here on Monday that the administration would study the fallout of plying of buses on the stretch before it takes a decision to allow goods vehicles. Police personnel would be deployed round-the-clock at locations where landslides have affected the river embankment to enforce one-way rule.
The Ghat, which was closed for all kinds of traffic from August 14 following landslips owing to torrential rains, was opened to light motor vehicles from September 5.
Ordinary buses, including sleeper coaches and regular goods vehicles, were plying via Charmadi Ghat all these days, despite the Ghat road being in ruins at most of the locations, particularly curves. KSRTC was operating its multi-axle buses via Kudremukh, which used to take 10-11 hours between Bengaluru and Mangaluru as against 7-8 hours via Shiradi Ghat.
There was clamour to open Shiradi Ghat, at least for buses, since passengers as well as bus operators were put to great hardship travelling via Charmadi or Kudremukh Ghats. Engineers from the National Highways Division of the State Public Works Department as well as the National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) had recommended allowing buses too in their report to district administrations of Hassan and Dakshina Kannada on September 4. Yet, buses were not allowed at that time.
In all, there are about 12 vulnerable locations, including two in the non-Ghat stretch in Sakleshpur taluk of Hassan district, where one-way movement of vehicles may be enforced, till the damage is rectified.
Road users as well as local residents around Shiradi and Gundya had launched a fierce campaign demanding opening of the Ghat for all kinds of vehicles. Kishore Kumar Shiradi from Malenadu Jana Hita Rakshana Vedike had threatened a massive protest from October 12 if the Ghat was not opened for other vehicles too. Protesters alleged that the decision to close the Ghat in the guise of safety smacked of ulterior intentions to get more funds in the name of permanent restoration works.