Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Road repair work haphazard in city

Road repair work haphazard in city
The Asian Age

Bangalore, March 26: As is well known just one sharp shower of rain is capable of throwing the city into disarray. It would be surprising if the new coalition government has not already set the wheels in motion to get things in order. As a visitor remarked with a measure of resignation, "Every time I visit the city I see new and impressive buildings, but the roads seem to be going from bad to worse." The person hit the nail on the head. He is a bureaucrat from Tamil Nadu.

He elaborated, "The state government there is very particular about the state of the roads, especially the chief minister. He has emphasised more than once to us, that it is the roads that must impress the visitor whether he or she is from another part of the country or from overseas."

The state’s chief minister, H.D. Kumaraswamy did go on a visit to see the state of the main arterial roads for himself. He was terribly annoyed with the condition as well as the lack of attention by the concerned authorities. In fact the officials who accompanied him were on the receiving end of severe censure and were asked to buck up.

A senior BDA official agreed to be quoted on a promise of confidentiality, "Every new government is aware of the sort of problems that the roads present. One of the reasons that the work does not get done is there are too many departments involved. It is a case of the right hand not knowing what the left is doing. Then there is a matter of proper distribution of funds. Basically all through the years the governments have been helpless given the city’s growth."

Almost 25 years ago a seasoned bureaucrat, Mani Narayanswamy, who was then the chairman of the KSRTC made it a point to warn the city fathers that the roads as they were then would not be able to take the burden of increased and heavy traffic. He said then, "One cannot forget that these roads were built for the occasional car, cycles and jhatkas (pony-drawn carts). As I was in charge of the KSRTC, I realised that the more number of buses put out would take severe toll of the roads. Ever since then there have been new roads, but the fact is the old ones are merely being patched up and that too without proper knowledge."

The warning has proved prophetic. Mr Narayanswamy, who has long retired, lives in this city. Maybe it would be sensible to invite him over and take his views. As things are going maintaining the existing roads is a matter of damage control rather than giving the public something comfortable and safe to use. As one motorist was heard to remark after went into a pot-hole, "The government should have a - count-the-pot-hole - contest and nobody will get the number right."


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