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Salem-Ulundurpet section of NH 68 a nightmare for drivers

R. Ilangovan

Officials have failed to fulfil their promises, say lament road users Officials have failed to fulfil their promises, lament irate road users



WAR ZONE: The battered National Highway-68 near Salem. — Photo: P. Goutham

SALEM: It looks like an airstrip in a war-ravaged region. The craters and cracks on its surface have become virtual traps for those who gather courage to travel on it.

Road users beware. The stretch between Salem and Ulundurpet on National Highway 68, which provides vital connectivity for many cities and towns in Kerala with the North through Salem and Coimbatore, is bruised and battered.

A lifeline

The recent rain alone cannot be held responsible for its condition.

It has remained so for nearly two years, despite assurances by officials of the Ministry of Road Transport that it would soon be repaired. Union Minister T. R. Baalu, when he visited Salem some time back, assured people that no stone would be left unturned to repair the highway.

The thoroughfare is a lifeline that links Coimbatore and towns beyond in Kerala with Chennai by merging with NH 45 at Ulundurpet.

Hundreds of trucks from the North and passenger vehicles from Chennai, Villupuram, Kallakurichi, Attur, Salem, Coimbatore and from Kerala are dependent on this highway.

Not long ago, the stretch between Salem and Kallakurichi was bad.

Now the entire stretch between Salem and Villupuram has turned worse. A half-hearted attempt to fill the potholes with stone and tar has ended in vain.

A frustrated driver told The Hindu that the stretch was a nightmare. The constant battering has resulted in the maintenance cost of the vehicle increasing manifold. ``Other than this we suffer from severe back pain and stiff neck.''

A bus driver pointed out that he had to maintain his schedule while negotiating the craters patiently. "Even a momentary lapse of concentration will end in disaster. Accidents are frequent here.''

Many a proposal has been submitted for its widening and relaying. But they remain on paper.

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