Despite the civic body spending nearly Rs. 6,000 crore in the last six years on city roads, here's why your rides have remained bumpy: In a scathing indictment of civic officials and contractors, a confidential report presented by Swiss-based third party audit firm SGS India said one in every three new major roads built in the last few months is damaged.
The audit was conducted right after the monsoon ended, to see the state of the 147 roads built by various contractors, who were allotted work last December to build 175 major roads in the city at a cost of Rs. 550 crore. Of these, the internal audit found that 44 roads had been damaged - either by trenches dug by utility firms and civic departments, or by holes dug to erect Ganpati pandals. A few roads had started wearing out just months after being laid.
The most number of damaged roads were found in the eastern suburbs (21), followed by the island city (12), while the western suburbs had 11 such instances. Sources in the civic body said this practice, of letting the road deteriorate soon after building it, was in fact a way of furthering the nexus between officials and contractors, benefiting everyone in the chain. Except taxpayers who shell out the money for the roads.
"Constant digging leads to quick deterioration. It leads to potholes in the monsoon, paving the way for pothole-filling contractors," said an engineer from the roads department.
An engineer from the eastern suburbs, who did not wish to be named, said the BMC couldn't be blamed for these excavations. "Many a times, utility firms dig up trenches without our permission. Our policy does not allow any excavation of a road for at least a year after it is built."
Another senior civic official said: "We write to these utility companies at least six months before we build new roads, asking them to carry out excavations before work begins. They don't respond then and later, excavate new roads."
Additional municipal commissioner Aseem Gupta said he hadn't seen the report so yet. "The report has been submitted to us but I haven't been able to study it so far. I will study it soon and take action accordingly."