Monday, January 25, 2010

Citizens smile as poll roads are laid

Citizens smile as poll roads are laid
But The Big Question Is: Will Road Work Go On After Elections? Will The Tar Last?
Aarthi R | TNN

Bangalore: It’s a simple poll truth: asphalting of roads signal the arrival of elections. In India, roads and elections a seem to have a special connect. Political parties appear to think that the voter falls for the ‘seeing is believing’ trick, and roads have high visibility.
Namma Bengaluru is no different. Even as the election schedule was being finalised, road works began in full swing — as if on cue.
Today, almost all areas in the city are recharged with the new layer of asphalt. But a few months later, it could become the good old potholed road again.
The big question is: will these BBMP elections bring a change, and will the tar last longer? TOI did a quick survey of some of these newly-laid roads. Areas like old Airport Road have asphalted roads but the footpaths are still to come. In other areas, road works are yet to be taken up, while Millers Road and the road around Ulsoor
Lake are already done. Here’s what the locals say:
“We don’t know, we have our fingers crossed,’’ says Mrs Thomas, 77, an old resident of Pai Layout in Beninganahalli. For many residents here since 1998, this is the first time their roads have seen some sort of tar. “It was never so fresh and black,’’ they say. However, one thing worries them: a few crossroads are still untarred. “The MLA has promised more road works, but after the new budget. But we don’t know,’’ they say.
Interestingly, with time, it’s not just the people but even elected representatives themselves who have become doubtful about the durability of their roads! Almost all MLAs present at the recent TOI interaction felt road works needed better monitoring. “A lot of these projects are cleared at the higher level. Asphalting has immediate impact but hardly lasts long. In the haste to build an impression, there is a lot of compromise on quality. There’s no monitoring as well. We are worried as we also use these roads,” they said.
“Unfortunately, this is the truth each time. Only the budgets become healthy, not the roads,’’ say traffic and road experts in the city. On a rough estimate, at least 60% of the total 6,000-7,000 km road network in the city still lacks ‘long-standing’ quality, observes traffic expert M N Sreehari. Road repairs are more of overlay works, while potholes and the drainage system are not treated. Each overlay should last at least 2-3 years but they fail within a year in Bangalore. They should ensure it’s done after every monsoon, than every election, he says.
Very often, one road get repeatedly tarred and others are repeatedly
ignored. “There should be a regular cycle of maintenance,’’ they suggest.
BUDGET TALK Majority of road work has been on since 2008-09; expected to be complete by March 2010. They include:
1,038 km asphalted roads: Rs 452 crore
237 km of concrete road: Rs 110 crore
A big chunk of the Rs 2,200 crore in the 2009-10 budget also spent on works to asphalt and widen 453 km of major roads
RECORD JOBS At least 17 roads in Ward 59 Maruthisevanagar asphalted in the past week — total of 17,800 sqm
Includes Milton Street, Cline Road, Loye’s Road, Lewis Road, High Street and others
Road under flyover in Sevanagar: around 1.5 km will be completely asphalted in another two days


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