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Karwar: The members of Save Uttara Kannada Co-ordination Committed and Committee against Land Acquisition for National Highway Project took out a protest rally in Karwar on Monday against the widening of National Highway 17 in Uttara Kannada district.
The protesters held a -rasta roko- at London Bridge for more than 30 minutes with the demanded that the National Highway Authority of India (NHAI) should limit the widening of NH to 21.5 metres instead of proposed 60 metres.
In neighboring states of Goa and Kerala, the NHAI had limited the widening to 45 metres. Whereas, in Karnataka it had fixed the widening to 60 metres, they said.
Advocate Kishor Desai, who addressed the protesters, said the people of Uttara Kannada had sacrificed their land for projects such as Konkan Railway, Kaiga, Seabird and many hydel projects. They had to continue the fight for the compensation for three decades in many cases.
Now, the Government was trying to evacuate the people in the name of widening National Highway. It could not be tolerated and people would fight against it, he said.
The former Minister Prabhakar Rane alleged that some contractor lobbies were behind the widening of the NH and said commission agents were against the move. He said that district would stand up against the project if the width of the NH was not limited to 21.5 metres in the district.
Madhav Nayak, social activist, alleged that the NHAI had been using different yardsticks in different States. He demanded that the NH project in Karnataka should be on a par with the NH widening in Goa and Kerala.
Vijay Mahantesh, Additional Deputy Commissioner, assured the protesters that a meeting would be called soon and the social organizations and the officials of NHAI would be invited to the meeting.
Though it was called an all-party protest, the BJP had boycotted it by alleging that it was a Congress-sponsored protest. R.V. Deshpande, former KPCC president who was supposed to lead the protest, backed out at the last minute. He visited the protesters for a while and left for Kumta. Local Congress leaders and councilors also stayed away from the protest.