The three Portuguese era culverts on National Highway (NH) 66, at Khaddem, Barcem and one on the foothills of Karmalghat in Quepem together with thousands of such culverts across India were declared structurally weak many years ago, they were also awarded an unique identification number.
All these three culverts are on NH66 between Balli and Canacona which serve as an important link from Gujarat and beyond in the north to Kanyakumri in the south and as such are of vital importance for transportation of commuters and commercial goods.
Looking at the state of these three culverts the NH66 authorities floated a tender to construct culverts parallel to the existing ones more than two years ago, but for reasons unknown the work is undertaken at a snail’s pace and will take at least another year if it continues like that complain regular commuters of this stretch.
The work to construct this three culverts began more than two years ago and are not completed yet, the slab for the culvert at Khaddem is done but finishing as well as approach road is not done, the culverts at Barcem and on Karmalghat are without slab informed Anil Bhagat a social activist.
On any given day two or three workers are seen, the work was even halted for many months last year.
“The existing culverts are too narrow for modern day traffic and the culvert at Karmalghat is witnessing accidents regularly, its beyond our imagination why such minor works take so much time” asked Bhagat.
“If by any chance one of this structurally weak Portuguese era culverts become unusable than the traffic on the important link on western Indian side will come to a grinding halt” Bhagat expressed his fear.
One of the culvert at Barcem was stabilised by reinforcing the underside of the culvert with iron beams while the other two are as they are and pose a constant threat to the commuters as they look good on outside but are weak from inside as they have outlasted their life informed a civil engineer having experience in such subject matter.
He went on to add that these minor bridges together with many other Portuguese era bridges in the state of Goa are being subjected to higher loads than they were supposedly designed to is a worriesome point and the authorities have to address it on a war footing to avoid calamities in future he said.