Waterlogging behind bad condition of roads
The main reason behind the bad condition of roads is waterlogging, which needs to be addressed urgently. It also decreases the life of roads and leads to recurrent repair work. Doing the same work again and again puts financial burden on people and the government. Hence, it’s better to improve sewerage.
Kirsan Ravinder Sangha
Too many cooks spoil the broth
The most suitable proverb to explain the deterioration of the city roads is “Too many cooks spoil the broth”. To provide the basic infrastructure in the holy city there are too many agencies working like the Amritsar Municipal Corporation, Amritsar Improvement Trust, Amritsar Smart City Ltd and Amritsar Development Authority. Moreover, some department of centre and state governments are responsible for road infrastructure in and around the city. But the poor state of affairs in this regard proves their inefficiency and carelessness. Moreover, state and central governments are paying more attention to the beautification of the holy city rather than starting cleanliness drive. They should ensure neat, clean and smooth roads in the holy city.
Long-term planning is always required
Mainly, two factors are responsible for poor condition of the roads in the city. To begin with, while making new roads or recarpeting work, level of the roads are not checked, which causes accumulation of water during rains hence damages the road. To avoid the same, part payment of the said work to the contractor concerned should be withheld and released after the first shower in the area concerned. Alternatively like Chandigarh Municipal Corporation, a specific machine should be used to scratch the uneven part of the road and simultaneously layer of new material is put on the road to recarpet the same. Secondly, the overflowing sewerage lines do damage the roads thus become major source of the problem. All sewerage pipes should be cleaned on regular basis.
Need to Frame road maintenance rules
On the one hand poor condition of roads causes inconvenience to commuters and on the other, it becomes a cause for many accidents. The government has a set of rules for vehicle owners and violators are fined accordingly. Similar rules should be framed for proper maintenance of roads. A high-powered committee should be formed in district level to see the implementation of such set of rules and in case of poor maintenance of roads the officer concerned should be fined accordingly and the amount should be deducted from his/her salary.
Rope in responsible contractors
In order to improve the condition of roads, the government should give contracts for making roads to only those contractors who assure quality work and give guarantee of repairing roads within stipulated time frame. The authorities concerned should make separate inspection team for roads whose main responsibility should be maintain quality of roads throughout the city. The inspection team should inspect all roads of the city on a daily basis and pursue repair of bad roads at the earliest so that there are least chances of accident caused by bad roads and potholes. The authorities concerned should also make speed-breakers on roads where ever they feel essential to avoid accidents.
Substandard material behind this mess
Once upon a time, before the British left, I remember most city roads in Amritsar were properly maintained. Residents never dug up holes anywhere. Heavy penalty for a leaking water pipe was inevitable. The Municipal Committee had a meagre budget of a few lakh and later on it levied a token tax of Rs 2 per annum on bicycles plying on city roads just to augment it. The present miserable state of most city roads, after 75 years of Independence, is rooted in wrong surveys, absence of proper repair work and poor drainage system. Even where adequate thickness of macadam is laid, it is not given time to settle and braking of heavy vehicles near a roundabout creates uneven and dangerous waves. On the other hand, the authorities do not believe in the adage ‘a stitch in time, saves nine.’ Small gaps occurring on the wafer-thin road crust are allowed to assume dangerous dimensions, no matter if they cause broken bones, broken axles or accumulate rain water to breed dengue. The trapezium-shaped speed breakers on the circular road are in fact back breakers, totally ill designed. If any road is widened and paved, its full width is not available for travelling, thanks to brick and sand businesses going on GT Road and 100ft Road, openly, for decades. Hundreds of roadside vendors complicate the issue. Until, we have an authorised body of citizens or NGOs to supervise road construction and maintenance, roads will continue to get washed out in rains.
Prof Mohan Singh
Roads not levelled after repair work
Both national and state highways are now totally in the grip of the private players and people, while travelling have to stop intermittently to pay the toll. Over and above this, heavy road tax has to be paid at the time of registration of any vehicle. Why the government cannot build, widen, maintain and repair roads, when they charge tax for it? So, highway network is in total control of private players. Many rural link roads are broken and potholed. These roads are taken up for repairs only at the instance of local legislators and administrators act only like uncoiled machines. So, the politics does not allow certain roads to be repaired. As far as city roads are concerned, these roads are dug at the whims of the corporate and government forgets about these later. A year back cables were laid at the E block of Ranjit Avenue, but the pits were never filled and levelled. For about past over eight months, a well known gas company, while laying the pipeline, has further damaged the roads and deep potholes are visible all around, causing accidents off and on. When people approached the company management for repairs, its officials told that they have deposited the amount with the Improvement Trust. The Improvement Trust has not been paying any attention to this work since long. Many roads are generally repaired during the rainy season which creates more problems for residents.
Short and long-term measures required
Indian roads can successfully be compared to a circus, lunatic drivers, chaotic horns of different sounds from every direction, animals roaming on the street, people walking in the middle of the roads, roads themselves being on the verge of rupturing to their core. It is often said anyone who is able to drive safely and soundly on Indian roads unofficially attains a certificate for the most immaculate driver. There are multiple reasons why India finds itself as numero uno for road accident-related deaths and is accountable for 11 per cent of total global road accident-based deaths. Some of the reasons have been addressed above in a nutshell. However, the one reason I would like to shed more light upon is the poor pitiful condition of the roads. Deep potholes, uneven construction and waterlogging make it difficult for commuters to have a smooth and safe journey. Now, I see a two-fold solution to the problem, for the short term it includes filing up of potholes with hard-wearing material, clearly marked lines along roads and restoring speed breakers. However, for the long term the government needs to take responsibility and make sure the contractors use long lasting material for making roads and then the administration needs to make sure people are compliance of the traffic rules including speeding and such. The public deserves roads which don’t crumble off after a single session of rain.
Laxity of civic body officials to blame
Roads are the lifeline of every city. They reflect the ambience of the township they run through, besides its lifestyle, civic sense, civic responsibility, mindset and a lot more. Dilapidated roads are a universal phenomenon in India. Some pockets of metro cities too have their own share of potholes. While we marvel at the buttery smooth roads in other countries, the poor state of the Indian roads is attributable to more than just weathering and the laxity of the civic authorities concerned. Heavy traffic coupled with indiscriminate digging of roads for laying cables, water or sewerage connections, flaws in carpeting, poor quality of materials used for the same, treating only the cracks are some of the reasons why roads develop potholes. While assigning the responsibility of maintaining the boulevards to top corporate of the city could definitely be considered as a viable option, roads are public property. Though it is the right of every Indian citizen to have access to a good road network, it’s also our duty to ensure that our pathways are well-maintained and it does not end just at paying our taxes on time. Instead of waiting for the civic authorities to act and moping around and complaining when they don’t, it would be advisable to take initiative to form a group of like-minded neighbours and individuals to conduct the repairs wherever and whenever required.
Shaheen P Parshad
Contractors should be taken to task
Roads make a significant contribution to the economic development and growth of a city. Hence, road infrastructure is the most important of all the public assets. It requires constant maintenance, renewal and modernization. When this is not done, roads remain in poor miserable condition and particularly during the rainy season, assume a catastrophic form. It has been seen that often the city roads present a deplorable condition becoming a nightmare for the drivers and road accidents are the leading cause of casualties because of the humps, speed breakers and potholes on the roads poorly maintained and inadequately filled. Poor quality of material is used in road construction. That is why the roads can’t bear the brunt of a single monsoon spell. The contractors who use substandard material in road construction should be taken to task without any leniency. If roads are properly constructed with space for pavement, bus bays and smoother bends, chances for road accidents will be reduced considerably. Besides ditches are a chronic problem that spoils city roads. They should be immediately taken care of. Often accidents occur because of the sheer violation of road safety rules. Therefore road rules should be strictly implemented. Deputing police personnel at various points may not work all the time. So the aid of traffic technologies such as speed guns should be sought. In addition to that roads should be monitored through CCTV cameras. It will make the road users conscious that they are being watched and can be hauled up if they breach the traffic rules. Road maintenance work ought to be categorised into three types - routine, periodic and emergency- to make roads user friendly. Also roads should have sufficient capacity, good sidewalls, and limited crossings and should not lack road equipment and safety measures. The authorities concerned should pay prompt attention to mitigate the inconvenience of the public caused by the dilapidated stretches of roads crying for emergent repairs. The city has been designated as a smart one but its roads don’t reflect smartness. The words and actions should match each other. For that all encroachments from roads should be removed. Service lanes along the main roads should be constructed. Public transport should be streamlined to put an end to the hardships being faced by commuters. The onus is on the administration to make roads ‘ lifelines ‘ of the city in the real sense of the term to provide the public a hassle-free commuting experience.
Tarsem S Bumrah
Reasons for potholed roads and the way forward...
- Contractor should use the latest technology/ equipment for digging and laying pipes.
- Ensure transparency by displaying the nature of work, time required, officials’ phone number for grievances, involve local residents by including them in the monitoring committee, regular site visits by officials and compulsory interaction with residents at least once a week.
- More deliberate city planning, plotting and construction to be allowed only after completion of civil works in the area such as laying water, sewage and other pipelines.
- Making contractors and officials accountable and penalising them in case of defaults.
- Heavy penalty to anyone digging without authorisation or leaving dug-up areas unattended. Vinod Mehta
With the district reporting a surge in dengue cases, what steps should be taken by the Health Department and civic body officials to stop breeding of dengue larvae and how should they raise awareness among the public to stop the numbers from rising?
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