Plan of inaction causes potholed roads

Roads are built without undertaking proper studies, there’s no regular maintenance or a proper drainage system. Neelam Pandey and Hamari Jamatia report.

delhi Updated: Mar 14, 2013 02:34 IST
Municipal Corporation of Delhi,news,hindustan times

As with everything else, Delhi does not plan the construction of its roads at all. Crores of rupees are wasted on constructing roads that develop potholes sooner than you blink.

Sample this: A 1.5-km stretch of Sewa Dham road in northeast Delhi was constructed and subsequently repaired by the unified Municipal Corporation of Delhi (MCD) at a cost of Rs. 1.5 crore between 2007 and 2012.

Ideally, the road should have lasted at least five years, but within a year, it developed cracks, Moreover, the civic agency should have spent somewhere around Rs. 40 lakh on the construction because dense carpeting costs Rs. 30 lakh per kilometer.

The matter doesn’t end here; the same road has now been transferred to the Public Works Department (PWD) as it is 60 feet wide.

This stretch was among the approximately 800 kilometres of roads transferred to the department by the MCD last year. After suffering so many cracks and potholes, the road will now be made concrete.

Study on roads

The PWD reached this decision after a scientific study revealed that bituminous was not an ideal component for the road.

“Had the civic agency done its home work well, it would have known that the area does not have proper drainage and only a concrete road was feasible. Concrete does not develop cracks after coming in contact with water. This way, they would have saved the huge amount of money they wasted on repairing that road several times,” said Raj Kumar Chauhan, PWD minister.

“Before taking up the construction work, we conducted a study of all the roads transferred to us by the MCD. They are being repaired as per the suggestions of the experts,” Chauhan added.

The concrete Sewa Dham road is now being constructed at a cost of Rs. 10 crore. And officials are confident that it will last for at least 20 years.

Regular maintenance
Various agencies have constructed the main roads of the Capital.

They include the PWD, the three municipal corporations, the New Delhi Municipal Council and Delhi Cantonment Board. But it seems that most of these agencies conveniently forgot that the roads need maintenance too if they are to last.

A number of arterial roads and flyovers in the city, constructed by the PWD, have developed huge potholes due to zero maintenance.

“From now on, we have made the construction company responsible for the maintenance of roads too. Not only are they aware of the road and its condition, they will also be the best judge of deciding how the road has to be repaired,” said a senior PWD official.

Drainage facility
The best of roads developed using the latest technology available will not last if there’s no proper drainage.

And since Delhi roads are largely made of bitumen — which loses its binding quality when it comes in contact with water due to which the top layer gets eroded — a good and functioning drainage system becomes imperative. This, however, is not the case because most roads get water-logged in case it rains even a little.

“If we want roads to last longer, we need to follow a simple rule of providing proper drainage. If there is no outlet for rainwater, it will erode its top layer,” said Dipak Mukherjee, former engineer-in-chief, PWD.

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First Published: Mar 14, 2013 00:08 IST