The Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation, struggling to come up with long-term solutions to the city annual pothole problem, has now decided to cover minor roads – those which are less than 30 feet wide —with a layer of cement.
The technology is called the Ultra-thin whitetopping (UTW), wherein a four sic-inch-think cement layer, called whitetopping is applied on an asphalt road.
“After scraping the existing asphalt road, the cement layer will be laid on the road. We are doing this as it will give the road more strength and durability,” said Satish Badve, BMC chief engineer (Roads).
The civic body has decided to implement the technology on minor roads only. Most of these internal roads are maintained by local ward offices, and are in a bad shape.
“Lack of co-ordination between ward offices and the road department results in the roads not being maintained properly,” said an official from the roads department, on the condition of anonymity, as he is not authorised to speak to the media.
The city has 1,940km road network of which 50% roads fall under the category of minor roads. “We have used the UTW system in two areas at Mulund and Mahul about two years ago. Those roads are in a good condition, so we have decided to do it on a large scale,” said Rahul Shewale, chairman, civic standing committee.
However, a former engineer of the civic roads department, expressed doubts about the success of this technology. Speaking on the condition of anonymity, he said: “Though the technology is good, it may not work in a city like Mumbai, where utility agencies dig up roads frequently and cause damage to both minor and major roads.”
However, the BMC chief engineer said that as they are planning to shift all existing underground utilities to a common duct, running parallel to the roads, this would not pose a problem.
A common utility duct is a structure that can be above or below the ground, which carries multiple types of public utility lines. Once this duct is in place, to repair or lay new lines, only the duct needs to be opened.
“After shifting utilities, the road will be worked on using UTW,” said Badve. The civic body has made a budget provision of Rs 50 crore for implementing the UTW technology on city roads.