Mancherial-Chandrapur highway expansion spells end of road for small traders

The under-construction Mancherial-Chandrapur National Highway. —Photo: Santosh Padala

Mancherial: Development always has its own merits and demerits, be it construction of irrigation projects or creation of road infrastructure. The ongoing upgradation of Mancherial-Maharashtra border State highway number 1 into a national highway is no exception since hundreds of small business establishments abutting the road are likely to take a hit even as it comes as a boon for Mancherial and Kumram Bheem Asifabad districts in providing road connectivity.

It is being taken up under the National Highway Development Project (NHDP)-Phase IV under Bharatmala Pariyojana on a hybrid annuity mode, at an estimated cost of Rs 2,497 crore.

The widening of the double-lane network into four-lane will affect roadside business establishments in Thandur, Rebbena and Wankidi mandal centres while it can be a boon for Mandamarri, Bellampalli and Asifabad towns by improving the connectivity of the two districts. It will spell doom for hundreds of small-time businesses, thriving on either side of the road in the three mandals for many decades.

Mancherial-Chandrapur highway expansion spells end of road for small tradersConsidering the heavy vehicular movement on the busy Mancherial-Chandrapur State highway number 363, around 300 business establishments, including kirana shops, hotels, fruit stalls, ready-made apparel stores, drug outlets, etc., were set up by locals and migrants on either side of the stretch in the Thandur, Rebbena and Wankidi mandal headquarters. These have been providing livelihood to hundreds of families for around nine decades.

Bonagiri Vignesh, an owner of a groceries store in the Thandur mandal centre, lamented that the project would throw their lives out of the gear. “I have been running the shop for three decades, and most business establishments will be affected by the advent of the road network,” he opined.

“I migrated to the Thandur mandal centre from Rajasthan when I was 16 in search of livelihood. I started a sweet shop, a popular eatery here. About 60 per cent of the building will be demolished if the four-lane road is laid, pushing me into a financial crisis. I don’t know how to tackle this situation,” Govardhan Singh, another businessman, rued.

Owners of these establishments said they had represented the issue to local legislators and MPs several times but in vain. They, however, demand the authorities of the National Highway Authority of India (NHAI) to erect flyovers instead of underpasses on the route. “We can use the space around the pillars of the flyovers for running our businesses,” Nakka Durgaiah, a fruit vendor, said, adding he had migrated to Thandur from Kaghaznagar town 30 years before.

NHAI Project Director Ravinder Rao told ‘Telangana Today’ that the underpasses were already designed and were included in the project. He said affected business establishments, individuals and farmers were being compensated. The works would be completed by 2022, he said.

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