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5-year warranty doesn’t hold for Delhi’s roads

They came with a warranty of five years but a few did not last even for a few months. Many of the city’s roads are in dire need of repair. But instead of punishing those responsible for the shoddy jobs, the agencies are giving them more work.

delhi Updated: Aug 05, 2013 00:49 IST
Neelam Pandey
Neelam Pandey
Hindustan Times

They came with a warranty of five years but a few did not last even for a few months. Many of the city’s roads are in dire need of repair. But instead of punishing those responsible for the shoddy jobs, the agencies are giving them more work.

Take for instance, the busy Saraswati Marg road in Karol Bagh. The road was constructed during the 2010 Commonwealth Games at a cost of Rs 20 lakh. But the road began disintegrating within two years of its construction, locals say.

Area councillor Rajesh Bhatia said, “From raising the issue in the house and the works committee meeting, I have done everything. The civic deputy commissioner was evasive on the action taken against the contractor. Finally I got the road constructed but even today, it is in a bad condition.”

Sources said dense carpeting contracts have a clause. It says if a road gives way before five years, it is the contractor’s job to fix it. But in most cases, this is never done.

No action is taken against contractors for not doing their job properly. The reason: A nexus between local politicians and these contractors.

Work orders these days do not mention names of individual contractors but their company. This can be easily changed in case the company gets blacklisted. Even their addresses and phone numbers aren’t mentioned on the order.

Sources say the five-year warranty clause is seldom evoked. “The unified MCD blacklisted at least 15 contractors every year. But the three corporations have punished only eight contractors so far,” said a senior official.

Another such glaring example of inaction is a road in north Delhi’s Ashok Vihar phase 1. It was constructed just two months ago but has already begun to disintegrate. When questioned, MCD officials made excuses on the contractor’s behalf. “The day he carried out the work, it had rained heavily,” a senior north corporation official.

Many officials blame the potholes on Delhi’s bituminous roads. “Bitumen loses its binding quality on coming in contact with water. Waterlogging causes the top layer to erode,” said a senior civic agency official. Poor drainage is also to blame.

But there’s also the problem of lack of regular upkeep. “That is why small potholes soon turn into huge craters,” said Mahender Nagpal, leader of the house, North Corporation.

Delhi spends more than R3,000 crore on building and repairing roads. And yet it hardly seems enough considering there are potholes everywhere.

Case studies

Road crumbles within three months

B-block, Ashok Vihar Phase 1
Cost: Rs 20-25 lakh
Built: Two-and-half months ago

New Delhi: Though the road is still under warranty period, it has already started disintegrating and has developed potholes.
North Delhi corporation leader of the house Mahender Nagpal said, “We got a number of complaints from the residents. The road was constructed merely a few months ago. I’ve asked the department to find out why the roads had crumbled so soon,” he said.

Blame game after road caved in

Cost: Unknown
Built: 2010

New Delhi: A part of the road adjoining the Saket Metro station caved in during the heavy downpour of July 20. The road was constructed by Delhi Metro Rail Corporation (DMRC) after it completed the construction of the Metro station. It was then handed over to the public works department (PWD).
“The water seeped in from the parking lot of the station as the tiles at the parking lot were loose. The water weakened the foundation of the road,” a PWD spokesperson said.

The DMRC, however, defends itself. “The quality of construction did not result in road collapse. The drainage system around the station is in bad shape. The cave in happened due to stagnant water,” DMRC director (works) Jitender Tyagi said.

Shoddy, despite repair work
Saraswati Marg
Cost: Rs 20 lakh
Built: 2010

New Delhi: Still in its warranty period, the work on repairing the road was carried out only after various complaints by area councillor Rajesh Bhatia. But despite the repair work, the road is still in a bad shape.

“In 2012, I had raised the issue of the poor condition of road several times. I wrote to the deputy commissioner and took up the matter in the Works committee, asking them whether any action was taken on the contractor but so far nothing concrete has been done,” said Bhatia.