Udupi: Charmadi Ghat ordeal - Matter of minutes between survival and death

Daijiworld Media Network - Udupi (SP)

Udupi, Jun 13: Driver of a Karnataka State Road Transport Corporation bus which came to the town through Charmadi ghat road on the night of Monday June 11, Vinayak from Byndoor, recollecting the ordeal he and passengers in his bus went through, said that if his bus was ten minutes ahead, it would have smoothly travelled without any obstacles. He recollects that the night he and passengers spent there was frightful as there were chances of nature's fury snuffing out lives of the people waiting on the road. On second thought, he also says that a ten-minute delay would have witnessed a huge tree falling directly on his bus, which would have been deadly.

Vinayak says that when he started driving the bus from Bengaluru at 8 pm, he got the news that there was heavy rain in Malnad region and he was apprehensive of the ghat section getting blocked. However, he was assured that there were no problems. At Hassan, on enquiring with a bus driver, Vinayak was told that there was a little problem but it was not serious as the buses have passed the ghat section without too much of a problem. "When our bus neared Annappa shrine, the vehicular traffic, I observed, had slowed down. When we approached the last bend, the traffic came to standstill," he explained. He recalls that a bus of KSRTC that had left ten minutes before him had moved ahead of the place which experienced landslide without any problem and that within minutes, a huge line of vehicles had been formed on both sides.

"By 2.30 am, we had reached a little farther than Annappa shrine when the traffic stopped all of a sudden. I got down to check the air pressure in tyres. At that instant, I saw a tree getting uprooted on a Maruti Omni van. I was overcome by fear and rushed back to the bus," he stated. He revealed that out of 19 passengers in his bus, there was a lone woman. All of them were terrified by the situation. None of them could sleep during the night. They ate mangos which they got nearby and people in other vehicles passed on fruits, biscuits etc. The passengers also got food for the afternoon. The bus finally left for Udupi at 2.45 pm, after which everyone was relieved. However, the memories of water jumping down from everywhere and oozing from gaps in the ghats, and trees getting uprooted keep haunting me, he revealed.

While most of the buses arrived about ten hours behind schedule on Tuesday morning, some bus drivers who got advance information took diversion at Kottigehara and arrived ahead of others. The private bus owners and KSRTC bus drivers are eagerly waiting for the opening of Shiradi ghat section of national highway, which they hope will be free for travel by first week of July so that they will never have to undergo such a horrible experience again.