Open house: What steps should be taken to improve condition of roads in the city? : The Tribune India

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Open house: What steps should be taken to improve condition of roads in the city?

Identify and mark road sections that need repair work\

Open house: What steps should be taken to improve condition of roads in the city?

The Cool Road in a poor condition. File photo

Residents partly responible

The essential duties of a local self-government include providing well-paved roads, proper drainage, streetlights, water supply and preventive medicine. However, one is obliged to recall the times when the roads were unpaved, though no doubt they were hard and levelled. Potholes on Amritsar roads are a consequence of 'development' and corruption which is its concomitant. They often lack road gullies and even if provided, they are either clogged or just left open with bikers hitting them every now and then. In fact, residents themselves are partly responsible for the uneven road surfaces. For example, wherever some tentage is required for a temporary shelter, roads are blocked with impunity and long steel pegs are hammered into the pavement. The holes are never plugged properly, which results in potholes developing there. Patchwork done on streets by private plumbers or contractors is not levelled by using concrete and cement. Huge cuts remain a permanent feature. Everyone wants a smooth road to drive, but very few contribute toward their maintenance. The barest minimum the Municipal Corporation must do is to identify and mark such points so as to warn road users of possible axle-breakers. I think there should be a phone app using which motorists and residents can post such information, including the name and contact number of the contractor undertaking the maintenance of the section of the road. Smooth and streamlined traffic depends upon the availability of hazard-free roads, which is literally the road to development.

Prof Mohan Singh

Motorists face a tough time in crossing a potholed stretch of the bus stand road in Jalandhar. File photo

Constitute panel to monitor repair work

The officials responsible for getting roads constructed often boast of development undertaken by them. But the harsh fact is that new roads do not remain in good condition for more than just a few months as potholes develop on them. Officials responsible for poor quality roads certainly need to be taken to task. In order to improve the condition of roads, repair or work of laying new roads should be given only to honest contractors. Before releasing payments to contractors, an undertaking should be in writing taken from them, guaranteeing quality work and responsibility for any issues that could later emerge. Also, a committee of experts should be formed by the government to monitor initial road works done by the contractors. Only those officials should be appointed to pass road tenders who have knowledge in this regard and are not corrupt. For the past several years, many roads have been repaired and laid but before long, potholes developed on them. This is because substandard and poor quality material was used by the contactors. The government, thus, should concentrate only on providing a permanent remedy to the problem of substandard material used by dishonest contractors. Last but not the least, regular checking of roads for potholes should be done by the authorities in all city areas, especially after rain.

Sanjay Chawla

How are funds for road Repair used?

The Municipal Corporation and the civic officials are duty-bound to ensure that the basic amenities are provided to the citizens. This includes ensuring construction and maintenance of key roads for the convenience and safety of commuters; however, this aspect remains neglected, which is evident from the poor condition of roads. The officials responsible must be pulled up for such recurring problems. Crores of rupees are allocated for road development, but are the funds utilised effectively? The entire city is currently undergoing a road revamp, but the job has not been undertaken systematically, making bottlenecks a daily ordeal for the residents. To make matters worse, potholes have re-emerged in Model Town roads, a fact that brings to fore the poor quality of the work. The government's job doesn't end simply with financing and publicising the developmental activities — supervision and accountability are essential during and after the process to ensure officials or contractors maintain high construction standards. The quality of material and workmanship must be prioritised and monitored without fail. It's a unanimous plea by the distressed citizens to the authorities to set the ball rolling for improved oversight on road construction, and removal of the loopholes.

Anshika Kohli

Temporary solutions only deceive public

Poorly maintained roads with potholes and bumps in cities make driving a nightmare and potential cause of accidents. Unfortunately, the problem seems to be getting worse with each passing year as roads are not repaired properly, and only temporary solutions are used to deceive the public. Despite public complaints, the authorities often fail to take action or allocate sufficient funds for repairs, leading to a lack of progress on the ground. Corruption and dishonesty are the root causes of this problem. However, the government can take some measures to address the issue, such as involving competent higher authorities in the Local Bodies Department, including the minister and MPs, along with local councillors and citizens. Surprise visits can be made from time to time to check the progress of development works, fix accountability and punish those responsible. Strict laws should be implemented to prevent the unauthorised digging or damaging of roads, and contracts with construction firms should have clear provisions for maintaining the allotted roads for at least one year after construction. Part of their payments should be withheld to incentivise the contractors to maintain the roads, in full compliance with the maintenance contract. High quality standards should be ensured during the construction process through regular inspections and adherence to norms. Speed bumps can be installed to regulate traffic speed and reduce wear and tear on roads, especially in areas where overspeeding can cause accidents. Improving roads requires collaboration between citizens, contractors and government authorities. If all of them work in unison, safer and smoother roads can be ensured for everyone.

Dr Kulwant Singh Phull

Make maintenance mandatory

The broken roads and potholed streets cause accidents every day. Apart from the loss of precious lives in such accidents, traffic snarls in big cities caused by broken roads, waterlogging and unorganised development are a common experience. Ironically, the situation in smaller towns is no better. The standard of construction is blatantly compromised by the contractors, in connivance with the officials in charge of public works, resulting in roads getting broken and big potholes appearing soon after the laying of roads and streets. The conditions become worse during the rainy season, when city infrastructure starts crumbling in many ways. Apart from physical risk to life and property, a lot of time is wasted in reaching one’s workplace in those weeks of monsoon horror. Moreover, stagnant water caused by even a light rain, and garbage scattered across the city, create environmental problems like foul smell and viral diseases. The desperate residents, especially in unauthorised colonies, are subjected to numerous ordeals due to the lack of concrete streets or sewerage channels. Besides, delay caused by travelling on poor roads adds grievously to the woes of commuters, including daily-wagers who can lose their wages if they report late for work. As such, market activities and routine work in offices is severely affected. To overcome the problem, tenders must include a clause on after-completion maintanence. Honest officials must be deputed to supervise the construction, for only they can ensure that the contractors who commit malpractices or are careless do not go scot- free, putting the blame on the vagaries of nature such as incessant rains, deluge, blockade of water in disposal channels, etc. The authorities must act proactively by involving local RWAs for ensuring that roads, streets, sewerage and drainage outlets are in good shape and regularly repaired. Haphazard and unauthorised urbanisation ought to be checked and the government should adopt a zero-tolerance approach to tackle the menace of encroachment on streets and road pavements. In the backdrop of huge sufferings to the public, regular upkeep and maintenance of infrastructure must be ensured — this can make lives of human beings in this city worth living.

Nirmaljit Singh Chatrath

Bitumen roads better than cemented roads

Residents raise a hue and cry but only in vain for keeping a strict vigil on potholes in roads. It is the duty of the administration and civic bodies like Municipal Corporation and Municipal Committees to get the potholes repaired on priority basis as these potholes lead to untoward incidents and accidents. The worst sufferers are those who drive scooters, Activa or bicycles, especially at night. Sometimes e-rickshaws also tilt due to potholes. These potholes are some time rarely visible to the driver of the vehicle which creates a potential for major mishaps. The Local Bodies Department should come forward for announcing formation of a special wing to tackle the menace of potholes and get them repaired within a stipulated period of one week. Regular patrolling by the staff of the new wing should be undertaken to keep a vigil on the potholes. Material and labour should be kept ready to set the potholes right. Due to the increasing height of roads, the height of the sewerage chambers should also be levelled to that of the road surface. Potholes occur due to waterlogging. It is because of this that the number of potholes increases during the monsoon season. The officials of Municipal Corporations and Municipal Committees should be allocated special funds for filling the potholes. The officials concerned should also be held responsible if they fail to carry out the repair work of potholes in a specific period and a major accident occurs. The administration has approved cemented roads as it takes a lot of time to get constructed, but why not bituminised roads? Bituminised roads can be constructed within a short time, causing no inconvenience to the pedestrians and vehicle drivers.

Rajat Kumar Mohindru

Hire contractors with proven record

There is no denying the fact that roads of almost all the cities in the state are in a bad shape. They are riddled with potholes. The condition of certain roads in cities and towns is so pitiable that it is almost difficult, nay, impossible to drive vehicles on them. Rain further worsens the condition. These bad roads often prove dangerous for bikers and motorists. Fatal accidents take place on such roads. The problem is quite grave and can be fixed if all work is done in unison. A strong political will is required to get the potholes repaired. A survey of potholed and un-carpeted roads must be done annually. The government should get the broken patches or roads repaired immediately once a clear picture of the condition of roads emerges. Contractors with a proven track record in carpeting roads should be entrusted with the task of repairing the roads. If a contractor resorts to corrupt means, s/he should be prosecuted under the provisions of IPC. Besides, his licence should be cancelled. The public should also contribute to the cause. It is often seen that people get roads or streets of their colonies dug up to lay multi-purpose pipes or wire. They often don't seek the permission of the authorities concerned to carry out any digging activity. Once their job is over, they often leave the road/street unrepaired. This tears off the roads in the course of time. Such activities should be discouraged through the execution of existing provisions of law or by spreading awareness. Last but not the least, technology must be used to locate and subsequently repair potholes or broken patches on the roads.

Prof Rajan Kapoor

Use money from toll tax to repair roads

Well-maintained roads and highways are the basic necessities of human life which is why countries such as the USA and Canada are ideal places for many Indians due to a plethora of factors, one of the major reasons being clean and roads sans potholes. On the contrary, it is a dream for Indians which may well never come true. Almost every day, a new heart-shattering incident takes away lives. The authorities should be held responsible for this because the most common way of repairing potholed roads in India is to fill the gap with a cheap and weak mixture, which is easily washed away by the lightest of rain, pointing out the leniency of officials towards their duties. Also, the toll tax is collected in the name of rectifying the condition of the roads but is not being used for repairing roads but filling the pockets of people in power. This also takes away the human rights of every citizen who deserve a clean and smooth road for what they are paying for. Therefore, it is the duty of governing bodies to provide clean highways and streets. The issue at hand requires prompt action from the government. It is important to address the matter and take necessary steps towards its resolution. The current situation has attributed blame not just to the government, but also to the suppliers of raw materials. The contractors should provide adequate and required materials rather than fill their pockets by providing wrong and cheap types of cement. If any contractor is found guilty and corrupt, his licence should immediately be revoked, and he should be heavily penalised. In addition to this, immediate action needs to be taken to repair the roads and fill every single bump and hole.

Lakshit Jindal

Display construction details on a board

Roads full of potholes have become a common issue. Even people fail to pay heed to the issue now. Potholed roads lead to accidents. In the rainy season, it leads to the accumulation of water. The only solution is that it should be made mandatory for every development agency like PWD, Municipal Corporation or urban development authorities to mention the name of the contractor on a board near the newly built road whenever any stretch is built. The specifications of the material used and the tentative age and actual cost incurred on the tender project should also be mentioned on the same board. This will make the residents aware and they will start asking the authorities concerned about benefits accruing from the money they pay as tax. People who give huge taxes to the government must be provided with basic civic amenities like roads. Moreover, road access is a fundamental right. Once people become aware, the issue can be resolved.

Harvinder Singh Chugh

Good roads our right as we pay taxes

Poor road conditions make it difficult and unsafe for vehicles to travel on the road. The cherry on the cake is when it rains and a flood-like situation can be noticed. Potholes, craters and cracks are visible on almost all roads despite the effort that goes into their construction. The roads that are recarpeted also succumb to cracks and craters and get shattered. It's a clear case of corruption and indifference of the concerned authorities. There is no excuse for the pitiable condition of roads. The common man suffers the consequences by falling into potholes, getting injured badly and in some cases even losing their lives. Poor construction material, corruption and lack of oversight by the authorities are the factors concerned. We are paying taxes and to have a good road is our right. The poor condition of the road is a hazard for the drivers and road users. There is always a risk of accidents and vehicles damage. Suspend immediately the guilty officials and book the contractors. Their licence should be cancelled and all roads recarpeted.

Shashi Kiran

Question for next week

Rise in construction activities led to an increase in respiratory and cardio vascular diseases among residents. Tonnes of construction waste could be seen dumped along roads and vacant land in several parts of the city. What steps should be taken to protect the environment and safeguard the health of residents?

Suggestions in not more than 200 words can be sent to [email protected] by Thursday (Feb 29)

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