.........BENGALURU: For those waiting for their favourite watering holes in the central business district (CBD) and other hangouts close to national highways to reopen, the wait is only getting longer. The Union government has refused to denotify National Highways (NHs) passing through cities and towns in the state.
Following the Supreme Court orders to close down bars and liquor vends within 500 metres of NHs, the state government had appealed to the Union Ministry of Road Transport and Highways to denotify some stretches of NHs in the state. Listing out reasons, the Centre, on August 14, informed the state that it is not feasible to denotify isolated stretches of NHs running to about 609.65 km.
The Centre’s communication was placed before the High Court on Thursday, which is hearing a batch of petitions filed by owners of bars and restaurants seeking directions to denotify stretches of NHs as well as to renew excise licences.
The communication said the state government has proposed denotification of 147 isolated stretches of NHs scattered across the NH network passing through the state. It has been ascertained that construction of bypasses have not been completed/commissioned for any of these stretches. Therefore, none of these stretches qualify for ‘deemed denotification’ at this stage.
Further, the Union ministry said that favourable consideration of the proposal at this stage would tantamount to permitting isolated discontinuities in NH corridors.
The ministry made it clear that it is not in a position to consider the proposal to denotify stretches NHs at this stage as the apex court order was not modified or reviewed by any subsequent order. High Court judge Justice Vineet Kothari adjourned the hearing of a batch petitions filed by to Friday.
What The Centre Said
The contention of the state government that NH-207 acts as a bypass to NH-4, NH-7 does not appear to be correct as any traffic required to move from NH-4 or NH-7 to other NHs (NH-209 and NH-275) cannot use NH-207 and traffic has to essentially commute through Bengaluru.
The state government conveyed that the state road (NICE Road) connecting NH-7, NH-4, NH-209, NH-275 has been developed as 4-laned carriageway and may be considered as bypass on South-east side of Bengaluru. It is learnt that this road is developed on BOT (Build-Operate-Transfer) mode by the state and the concession period is up to 2021. It is difficult to consider the same as a bypass to the NH.
Inconsistency have also been observed in the details of chainages within Benglauru city limits in respect of NH-4 as there is an ongoing BOT concession of NHAI.
With regard to maintenance, development and nature of work undertaken on stretches of NH-4 in Bengaluru city from 2010, there is no mention of the amount of investments made by the state government/BBMP.
The proposal of the state government for denotifying 17.25 km length of service roads of NHs on either side of the following elevated NHs developed on BOT (Build-Operate-Transfer) projects cannot be considered as service roads are part of NHs.