By Rajat. R, Team Mangalroean
MANGALORE May 7, 2011: If you are heading northward from Mangalore, you will be directed towards the newly-named highway ‘National Highway 66’ formerly called ‘National Highway 17’. But only after you reach Surathkal, you will realize that you are still on NH 17 than the newly named NH 66 since the signboards do not show NH 66 written on them.
This Panvel - Kochi road was formerly known as NH 17 until recently when it was renamed NH 66 in April 2011. Since the time the highway was renamed, the signboards giving information about the signboards are not yet completely changed. In the Mangalore - Udupi stretch, the signboards reading ‘NH 66’ have been put up only till Kuloor area. And from Surathkal all the way till Udupi, the signboards read ‘NH 17’.
This had created some confusion with tourists from other states who are unaware of the change in the naming of the highway. A shopkeeper in the Surathkal area said that many tourists from various states like Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh would stop their vehicles in order to ask for directions to go to Udupi and confirm if they were on the right path.
A motorcycle tourist from Tamil Nadu touring in the late evening time, who had come to Mangalore and wanting to go to Mumbai was asked about this confusion. He said that even he was not aware of the re-naming and knew from people in Mangalore that he had to ride on NH 66 to get to Mumbai, so when he followed that road he lost trace of NH 66 before Surathkal. Hence, he said that he had to turn back and look if he had missed a diversion to NH 66 but he could not trace any such diversion and landed up in Kuloor area again.
He also said, “After going back to Kuloor searching for NH 66, I asked a bus driver who was ending his job for the day, he told me all I had to do was go straight in this road and since he was aware of the many places that the NH 17 sign boards are still erect, he asked me to carry on in the NH 17 where I can pass through Udupi and other cities ultimately to get to Mumbai. It was on the whole very confusing and misleading”
A group of young Mangaloreans who usually travel to Goa in their car informed mangalorean.com that throughout their journey till Mapusa in Goa, they could find signboards reading NH 66 only till Kuloor. From Surathkal till the north of Goa which they usually visit the road signboards read NH 17.
To add to the confusion the state government has been issuing order pertaining to road repairs on this highway in the name of NH 17 and it could not claim the grant it has to receive from the union government towards the maintenance of the national highways from the state funds.