Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Road Show & The City !

“All great roads are paved with uncomfortable memories.” ...Amy Neftzger

Reading this quote from the great American author& researcher I felt that in this context each road in our dear city is a great road! It’s after nearly four or five years the city has been hit by heavy rains & first victim are the roads of the city. As usual all the news papers are full of running stories about the conditions of the roads & experts comments are being taken; every political party is trying to show their annoyance against the road conditions by various ways of protests. Even the local radio stations are running worst Pothole contest & what not! Entire city has just one subject on mind & that is road conditions & problems it’s creating for the common citizen!
No doubt it is serious issue as not only it causes accidents but the loss of time delays due to traffic slow down is tremendous. Also the stress generated amongst the commuters due to travelling on such roads, we have to account for that. The poor road conditions cause fourfold damage, first is the vehicular damage causing loss of property. Second is human damage causing loss of life or physical damage involving medical expenses & time wastage due to the same. Third is increase in stress level of the road users as in busy schedule each one has to reach his/ hers destination in time & bad road conditions slows down the traffic & the frustration we see in the way driving goes on the roads, continuous honking of horns, street quarrels’ because of overtaking of vehicles in wrong way are few of the reflections of this increased stress level. And fourth is money involved in redoing these damaged roads, which actually is public money.

According to some news agency the road length of Pune city is nearly 600 km, though this must be only featuring main roads & not the smaller, connecting roads. And surprisingly except few major roads like JM road nearly all the roads have been in damaged state. And it’s not only local body which in our case is PMC but even the roads surrounding the city villages which now are indirectly suburbs of the city also are in bad conditions. Even the highways crisscrossing through the city & their bypasses are not exception for bad road conditions. Here I really admire the synchronization of various Govt agencies which are supposed to keep the roads in good conditions. It seems that no where comparison should be done by the media or common man so at a time all roads are damaged due to rains, at least here the consistency is significant! Take any connection road to Pune city or the service roads of highways or the village roads out of PMC, every road has huge pot holes & the condition is unusable.
Answers given by various authorities for such road conditions are funny to hilarious some time pathetic, “such as, there aren’t enough storm water drains, we usually undertook road repairs during May end to mid June & rains arrived earlier”! As a common citizen I always get haunted by the question why every year we need to have road repairs in itself, even before monsoon? It’s high time to study the problem in depth & act once for all as every time it has rained heavily we have faced havoc on roads, so question is how many years the citizen who are loyal tax payers too, have to face this situation & why?
For that lets analyze the present situation of the city public bodies who are supposed to keep the roads in good condition. We have there ruling bodies i.e. PMC, PCMC & Collectorate which operates via Public Work Department & then we have High way authority for maintaining highways which passes through the city. Let’s focus on PMC i.e. for our Pune city roads. Here also there is JNNURM under which major roads like Sinhgad road, Solapur road, Baner road & Nagar roads are being done & then we have a road department which is responsible for all other roads. 

A road is road is one of the very basic structure in language of civil engineering & that too on a plain surface like the city it should not required great engineering knowledge or skill to build them is the situation for most of the road sites around. Then what go wrong that we witness damaged road all around? Is it that difficult to build a god road which will last for at least ten years of something like that? Well “No” is the answer will be given by any junior engineer, as all we need is some basic planning & proper supervision with open eyes & mind.  

First & foremost follow the standard road section which must be available with every road department & stick to that only. As we have seen many of our roads are of tar/bitumen ( Dambar) & water is enemy of the bitumen. So if we make proper draining arrangements which is the first & most primary need of any road design then most of our problems of roads getting damaged will be taken care. And for that we need not require all the time expensive underground net work of storm water drains but a bit proper planning with study of the surrounding from where the road is being passed. Pune is mostly hill surrounded & as we have two rivers passing through the city maximum slopes are towards these two rivers. Also we have hundreds of streams/ nallahs flowing towards these rivers. All we have to check is give proper slopes to the road center so the water will flow to the edges & then carry it to the first nallah or stream & discharge the same in it. This may not be possible in all cases but most of the cases it can be done with a proper study of contours around the road & this should be done before starting the road work.

Another important aspect is making the proper sub grade which is very basic level thing. Most of the time it has been observed that because the base work of the road is poorly done , after the vehicular load starts the roads have been damaged under it so the sub grade sinks due to this load. This leads to accumulate rain water at such spots & finally forming pot holes. Here I wonder what kind of supervision our all elected members have as when they can be so keen on protesting after the damage what they are doing when the things are being actually executed? Agreed the engineers are at fault & so as contractors but if some work is going in a ward, isn’t the concerned ward member should be aware about the proper inspection & certification of such work? Residents in the locality are also equally at blame as they should ask questions to the concerned officers, unfortunately we always woke up after fire is the truth.

Then comes the road digging for n numbers of reasons like cable of electricity, telephone lines, gas pipe lines, water lines & the list is on. Even while constructing small connecting roads this basic infrastructural aspect we neglect that keep the ducts or space for laying such services in future. And PMC charges heftily i.e. Rs 4000/r.m for any road digging which is way above any road making charges. Problem is road get dug, payment get done but the purpose for which payment is made remains as it is. To my individual observation 99% of the time the digging portion is very poorly redone & here is the main cause of the damage of the road. As this remade portion either sunk due to improper making or bad surface finish & in the end its this portion which obstructs water draining of the roads eventually starting the road damage like a cancer. First of all make a road which won’t require to be dug & if at all it’s required then see that there has to be a standard practice to redo the dug portion & it has to be followed strictly. Things like speed breakers also obstruct the rain water flow & in a way helps in accumulating it at places which again is a cause for road surface damage. Here while certifying the redone road work of dug portion the concerned officer should take in account opinion of local residents in surrounding area about the quality of work done, as ultimately they are the best judge of the road in their area!

It’s so saddening that on one hand we are comparing Pune with top cities in world on account of knowledge & industries & education & on other hand we are repeatedly failing to provide the city very basic thing like roads. Here I will blame a bit to the common citizen also, who when buy something & if don’t get service then criticize the service provider. On that front Punekar’s are most aware customers, then why not get united & ask their right of good roads to the concerned authority. Rather if we are tax payer then we should access to tribunals like “ Grahak Panchyat or Consumer Courts” as we are customer of local bodies & if they are failing to serve us properly then they should be asked  to do so! Here again we keep silent till the problem don’t get aggravated & then when we become sufferer it’s too late.

Role of media is also always reactive; they should chase this issue throughout the year & not just in rainy season. As no news paper or media was asking the question why the local body hasn’t started road repairs in April itself, why it’s required to wait till May when monsoon is due in first week of June? Also what kinds of road repairs were supposed to be done? Just resurfacing the roads with tar isn’t going to solve the problem. A permemnanat solution is supposed to work out & for that what action plan local body is having? Why these questions are not asked in winters or summers so as we don’t have to face the same punishment in every rains?

Here every segment of society even the builders’ association has to be proactive as a city is good for residing only if the infrastructure of the city is good & roads are face of any city. On one hand we are already very poor on public transport & more & more citizen have to go for private vehicles for their daily commuting. And if we won’t be providing even the good roads for their journey then what right we have to call our self as an ideal city? And this is job of every individual who call himself Punekar. The condition is same all around the State, in ever town or city roads are in tatters making life of millions miserable & unsafe. And it’s now up to us only whether to make our journey on them with good memories or bad!
Sanjay Deshpande

Sanjeevani Dev.

MSEDCL (Power) Committee, Credai, Pune

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