Thursday, August 28, 2008

Coordination between the agencies critical

Coordination between the agencies critical
R K Misra

Acommon refrain we hear from Bangaloreans is that roads are made by design to last till the next monsoon so that they can be repaired and relaid every year. You complain to any officer about bad roads and the quick response is, ‘Don’t worry, we are in the process of tendering and will fix all the roads after the rain’. The media count potholes, officers publish pothole-filling charts with impossible deadlines and life goes on. The pattern is repeated every year.
But the question is: Why do we need to asphalt roads every year? It doesn’t happen anywhere in the world, including Indian cities.
As co-chairman of the empowered committee on infrastructure, I tried to put an end to this. I felt it is a colossal waste of public money to paste a thin layer of asphalt every year which gets washed away the next monsoon.
We selected major roads across Bangalore, including 19 so-called IT/BT roads, 40 World Bank funded KMRP roads and 36 PWD roads, including 6 diversion roads, to do a thorough job of providing covered tertiary and shoulder drains, concrete footpaths, road medians and finally asphalting with appropriate thickness of Dense Bituminous Macadam (DBM), Bituminous Macadam (BM) and Bituminous Concrete (BM) to ensure these roads last for 8-10 years.
A lot of time and effort was spent in surveying each road to assess its condition and then design appropriate a repair programme. Drains and footpath were non-existent in most cases. We provisioned for these in the budget. To avoid frequent digging of the footpath, we laid concrete footpaths with underground channels for cable companies.
It took around two years but finally we created high-quality roads which have already survived three monsoons. It will be interesting to
make a comparison of a few such roads. Take Indiranagar, for example — 80 Feet Road, 12th Main and ESI Hospital Road were taken up under this programme. Compare these roads with 100 Feet Road, CMH or Double Road and see the difference.
In recent time, I’m saddened see to indiscriminate digging of all these roads by various agencies. It is unfortunate that BBMP has still not evolved a digging protocol and there is no coordination between digger and filler. The digging agency pays money and gets permission to dig from the owner of the road i.e. BBMP, PWD or BDA. But, repair never happens on time.
Even when it is repaired, it is never restored to its original strength and quality. It becomes a permanent weak spot which slowly becomes a pothole, water seeps into it and the road deteriorates. It really pains me to see our tax being washed every monsoon.
Look at Ulsoor Road junction where BSNL routinely digs and never repairs it. They have huge layers of cables underneath but don’t bother to make a proper chamber so they don’t have to dig up the road. Precious public money is being wasted by irresponsible public institutions.
The same is true of clogged drains. BBMP sweepers fill the drain mouth with dust and garbage as they don’t want to take the trouble of putting this dust in their carts. The BBMP inspector doesn’t bother to check. With drains blocked, even the slightest rain floods the roads. Why can’t BBMP tackle such basic issues? It’ll be easier to keep drains flowing rather than setting up flood help lines.
Our civic agencies know how to make good roads, but someone needs to force them to do it. It seems it is a profitable business to make roads every year rather than making good roads which will last for years.


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