Under fire for the pitiable condition of roads, the civic body has tightened norms governing the extensive trenching work carried out by various internal and external agencies. According to civic officials, more than 400km of city roads are dug up every year for laying utility lines.
The Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) recently modified its trenching policy, which could result in systematic excavation and refilling of trenches in the city. However, citizen groups are skeptical of the initiative, and are demanding proper implementation of the guidelines.
The civic body has also proposed the use of trench-less technologies to avoid open trenching, which damages roads. SVR Srinivas, additional municipal commissioner, said: “We are in the process of introducing horizontal directional drilling (HDD) that does not require digging of roads. The commissioner will take a call on this soon.”
Municipal commissioner Sitaram Kunte has sought a report on this new mechanism. Once approved, the HDD policy will also be incorporated in the guidelines for trenching.
The modified policy states that the utility agencies concerned will now have to submit an annual plan, with information about the details of roads that need to be dug through the year. Until now, the agencies would submit their request whenever they required to lay utility lines.
“Now, agencies will have to strictly adhere to the submitted annual plan. Permission to dig roads not mentioned in the plan will be given only during emergencies,” Srinivas said.
The policy also allows road engineers and citizens to upload pictures of the trenches on the pothole tracking system. Moreover, the refilling of trenches will now be carried out by the civic body, as against the earlier system in which contractors appointed by the utility agencies did the job.
“We have been promised several initiatives, but all these guidelines remain on paper. It is more important to lay good roads in accordance with the required specifications, which will solve most of the problems,” said Rajkumar Sharma, coordinator, AGNI (Action for Good Governance and Networking India).