NH 169 Stretch Near Belavi Has Turned Into A Death Trap
For Naveed and his friends in Belvai, any loud sound is a sign of another accident on the National Highway No. 169 (formerly NH 13). “Invariably, every Sunday, I have rushed with my friends to rescue (accident victims) in the past few weeks,” he says.
Mr. Naveed is among the many residents of Belvai near Moodbidri who are concerned over the increasing number of accidents on the 500-metre stretch near Matadakere on the National Highway. It’s this concern that has made Naveed and his friends install boards cautioning motorists. “A majority of the victims have been those from outside,” Mr. Naveed said.
Of the 13 deaths in 11 fatal accidents in Moodbidri since January, five have been from accidents at the Matadakere. Among this five, was an Alva’s College student who was on his way to college from Karkala to write an exam, on February 15. There have been 46 accidents in Moodbidri Police Station limits since January of which majority of the incidents have occurred in this 500-metre stretch.
Primary reason for the accidents had been the uneven nature of the road. The problem has been more so for vehicles coming down towards Belvai from Karkala at a turning, 200 metres away from the Matadakere. “While negotiating the bend, buses and heavy vehicles, at times, swerve to right. I have driven myself and felt it,” said Raghu Pujari, president of Belvai Gram Panchayat, who runs a transport company.
This was what led to a serial accident involving a private bus, three-wheeler mini tempo, and a car on June 28. Mr. Pujari said he had asked Udupi-Chikmagalur MP Jayaprakash Hegde to take up the matter with the National Highway Authority of India.
The residents blame private buses which had been involved in many accidents at the Matadakere.
“They drive rashly on this stretch. Till the last minute, they do not apply brakes,” said Sudhir, another Belvai resident.
He referred to the head-on collision between a private bus and a car on January 25 night in which three persons in the car were killed.
However, Mr. Pujari comes in support of the private bus operators.
“The drivers are forced to drive this way because they have been given only 25 minutes to cover the distance between Karkala and Moodbidri. If the driver does not reach in time, he will be losing about Rs. 800 a day. There is a need for the RTO to revise the timing,” Mr. Pujari said.
“Speed of vehicles, more so buses, has been high on this road stretch,” said Babu M., headmaster of Government Model Higher Primary School that is located off this 500-metre stretch. “There has been no change despite indication about school zone,” he said.