While our roads may be paved with good intentions, do they translate to an easy ride? CW speaks to RTI activists, NGOs, former engineers and audit companies across India and gives you 15 reasons that tell us why Indian roads are the way they are.
1. Dig and ditch: Its like a kid who takes apart a toy and has no idea how to put it back together. Newly laid roads are often dug up by various utilities departments like the Public Works Department, State Road Development Corporation and the Municipal Corporation. Once dug, these departments fail to get the appropriate technical assistance to refill them. The probable result? Craters - big, big ones.
2. Losing the plot: Earlier, geotechnical surveys and mapping were an essential part of the road construction procedure. Now, in the run to earn under the table, these are ignored or bypassed.
3. And the plot thickens! Even on the off chance that geotechnical investigation does take place, these reports are often falsified or forged.
4. Whos that guy? City corporations are hiring blacklisted contractors every year. These contractors get away by paying a negligible fine.
5. Whats in a name! And in some cases, the same contractors with a different company name are hired.
6. You scratch my back... Often roads are built favouring the authorities or contractors.
7. Remains of the day: After giving money away to authorities and politicians (40-50 per cent) and catering for taxes, the contractors do not have enough left in the project kitty to build a good quality road (just about 30 per cent). So, you see, it leaves them no option but to resort to cheap materials and technology!
8. Urban jungle: Madness and mayhem characterise our city roads - vehicles, people, even the occasional animal -making it tough for contractors to work and repair them.
9. Water vs. asphalt: Drainage is abysmal on our urban roads - in Mumbai, an estimated 60 per cent of the roads do not have drains - leading to water logging. And in the battle between water and asphalt, no prizes for guessing who loses. And who wins? Potholes, of course!
10. Rat race: Did you know that rodents love to snack on roads, even concrete ones? Really. The holes they make lead to water logging - you know the rest.
11. Net loss: As part of E-tendering, where photos of potholes or bad roads are clicked and tagged with a complaint number and linked with the respective contractor, payment is supposed to be complete only after repairs. In reality, though, falsification is par for the course.
12. System error: Also, when contractors who arent particularly tech-savvy use new-age tendering software, glitches and errors often crop up in the system owing to incorrect entry of details.
13. Ask a silly question... When they are given free rein in legislative and local bodies, our politicians are an entertaining bunch alright. But it may help to raise more queries at question time about the state of our roads than launch into spiels of irrelevance about renaming them.
14. In Gods name: Commercialisation and politicisation of festivals is an intrinsic part of the Indian experience. Roads are often dug up indiscriminately for pandals and stages - and then forgotten.
15. Oops! Many a time, the Planning Department misses some crucial aspects during construction. Take, for instance, the recently inaugurated Mumbai Metro, where rainwater is falling from the station right onto the roads. Why? No one really thought about providing a proper outlet to excess water.
Watch this space for more...
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