Shortage of workers, diversion of industrial gas cylinders used for welding caused the delay
Work on the much-awaited 10-lane Bengaluru-Mysuru expressway project is expected to be completed only by December 2022, owing to COVID-19.
After experiencing delay during last year’s lockdown, the second wave of COVID-19 too saw many workers returning to the safety of their native villages. Besides, work on certain stretches had been hit by the emergency diversion of industrial gas cylinders, which are used for welding purposes, to meet the sudden spike in demand for oxygen to COVID-19 patients.
The work on the 117-km long expressway project had begun in two packages – about 56 km-long route from Bengaluru to Nidaghatta in Maddur in May 2019 and 61 km-long route from Nidaghatta to Mysuru in December 2019. Buildcon Limited, which has been entrusted with the project, had been given a deadline of 30 months for completion.
In view of the pace of work on the project last year, officials had anticipated the expressway to be ready by early 2022, though the deadline for completion was September 2022. “Now, it looks like the project work will continue till December 2022”, said an official with the National Highways Division of Public Works Department (PWD), who is overseeing the project.
While work had come to a grinding halt for almost two to three months during the first wave last year and progressed at a snail’s pace for a couples of weeks even after the lockdown was lifted due to labour scarcity, the second wave of COVID-19 now has also forced several labourers to either stay away from work for reasons such as testing positive and being advised isolation. “Some workers had even returned to their villages”, the official said.
The officials, however, are hoping to soon tide over the crisis they are facing on the labour front. “The supply of industrial gas will also be resumed after the situation eases”, they said optimistically.
Around 8,000 workers are deployed for work on the 117 km-long stretch between Panchamukhi Temple near the junction of the highway and NICE road in Bengaluru and Columbia Asia Hospital near the junction of the highway and Ring Road in Mysuru.
The expressway comprises a three-lane carriage-way on either side of the median, besides a two-lane service road on either side of the access-controlled main carriage-way. The project also includes construction of three elevated corridors including one on the outskirts of Bengaluru besides by-pass roads at Bidadi, Maddur, Ramanagaram, Channapatna, Mandya and Srirangapatna.