In a year's time, Delhi may finally get roads that don't crumble with the first burst of monsoon. After years of delay, Delhi government's public works department has agreed to change its road building technique.
The trigger — predictably — is the Commonwealth Games to be held next year.
The government is all set to adopt three new technologies — micro-surfacing, recycling and building plastic-bitumen roads — to strengthen and re-carpet city streets.
PWD Minister Raj Kumar Chauhan this week launched road-strengthening works that will used the micro-surfacing and the recycling methods. The project to strengthen roads using waste plastic is already on.
Traffic experts in the capital are of the opinion that the new technologies will not only help improve the quality of roads by adding strength, they will also increase the life span of the roads by almost two to there years.
Continuous traffic, over-loaded vehicles and extreme weather conditions make Delhi roads crumble faster. The recycling technology is eco-friendly and consumes fewer raw materials too.
"Bitumen is a costly material. It is a good idea to maximise the utilisation of whatever is available," said SM Sarin, former director, Central Road Research Institute.
Recycling, a Canadian technology, involves sourcing 70 per cent of the required material from the existing road. The remaining 30 per cent is brought in to fill the cracks that develop over a period of time.
Recycling, as a method, is apt for a city like Delhi where traffic movement is almost non-stop. The 'recycled' road not only takes less time to complete, it lasts longer too.
Micro-surfacing also adds life and longevity to roads. Unlike bituminous-asphalt roads, which are commonly seen in Delhi, the ones that are micro-surfaced can withstand extreme hot and cold conditions.
Yet another technology being used to re-strengthen an eight-kilometre road network in Delhi before the Games is plastic-bitumen road.
The lifespan of plastic-bitumen roads is almost double compared with the normal bitumen roads. It requires less maintenance because these roads are less susceptible to pothole formation, are waterproof and don't crumble during the rains.
The method involves using shredded pieces (1-2 mm) of waste plastic that are mixed with hot bitumen.
According to Central Road Research Institute's experts, waste plastic not only adds more strength to the roads but also makes the road surface smooth.
“The technology also helps in improving the environment by clearing waste plastic, which is a major source of pollution," a CRRI scientist said.
Road engineers in Delhi are said to have delayed the use of such new technologies.
Regular maintenance and resurfacing and re-strengthening of roads is a major money-spinner for corrupt engineers and officials of the civic bodies.
Roads are repaired in smaller stretches. It is easier to make money through smaller contractors, especially when even an executive engineer can commission a work.
Using modern technology, thus, could also mean an clampdown, though unintended, on corruption.
With the PWD finally adopting new technologies in almost 40 per cent of its 450-odd kilometres of road network, we hope to see smoother surface and fewer potholes on Delhi roads.
“The technology that gives us best result will be used more to improve Delhi roads,” said PWD chief engineer Vinay Kumar.
A good idea, don’t you think?