Everyday, a number of roads get asphalted under the Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagar Palike’s (BBMP) road works and a lot more wait to get constructed. It is often observed that soon after these roads are asphalted they degenerate, potholes appear and degradation results. Not many times do we ponder that there ought to be a procedure and specifications for laying roads.
Well there is such procedures, and it is available with the BBMP and they are supposed to follow it. M V K Anil Kumar, an RTI activist, filed an application to find out just this. The thought came to his mind because the troubles he faced on the roads within his area. He lives in Ashwini Layout in Koramangala, and the place did not have proper roads and despite repeated complaints from the residents’ welfare association (RWA) nothing happened.
Finally Anil Kumar, who also happens to be the president of the respective RWA filed two RTI applications in March this year. In one application, he asked for the copy of the work order for their ward (Ward 68). In another, he asked about the movement of these files in the same month to understand the delay in starting the work.
He got his reply in April mentioning the work order and the movement.
When Kumar was going through the files, he also understood that each single road should be a four layered. It should have 10 cms of metal (stones used for construction) in the bottom most layer, above it a 15 cms thick layer of wet mix (stone dust, stone crystals and cement) then 5cms of bitumen concrete and the final layer of 2.5 cms deep semi-dense asphalt, also called seal coat. But we hardly find engineers checking the proportions on the construction sites.
Also, in May, one month after getting his replies, work in Ashwini Layout started and progressed. "When the road construction started, no engineer checked if the mixture put was according to the set rules. Everyday I stand with the labourers and check with my own yard stick and measuring tape for the proportions," says Anil Kumar.
Most of the times the engineers were not even present to see if the asphalting was being properly done. Neither the contractor nor the engineer were looking at the proportions. Kumar claims that he has caught the labourers putting only 2 cms layer of bitumen concrete instead of 5 cms.
Kumar is aware of the level of corruption in the system, but he demands that at least 70 percent be achieved. “If they are not going to construct proper roads at one time, they themselves have to do it repeatedly," he adds. He feels that the lethargic attitude of all the engineers in the BBMP is the main reason for the sorry state of the work.
While he feels that the engineers are not committed to their work and are not accountable, he also suggests that the BBMP should have a project cell which will study the detailed project reports with minute particulars about all the road works going on in the city. BBMP engineers do know the ground realities, he says, and still no work gets done. Construction work is never completed according to the schedule and there is a delay by default.
As a general trend around the city, Kumar claims that he has observed that no engineer stays on for more than a few months (a maximum of six months) on one project. So by the time the engineer understands the details of any particular area he is transferred to other project or some other work. Then a new engineer has to start from scratch thereby delaying the construction and reducing productivity of the engineers.
Kumar also feels that before starting any construction the residents of the locality must be consulted as they are more aware of the troubles of the area. However, he adds that the BBMP does have excellent plans and their problem is in execution. None of the plans get executed the way they are supposed to be.
In the meantime, 3 main roads and 5 cross roads in Ashwini layout are still under construction. Kumar stands with his measuring tape everyday to ensure correct proportions.⊕