While the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) is conducting trials of three new pothole-filling technologies hoping to hit upon a novel way to resolve Mumbai’s annual pothole crisis, officials from the Roads department said the use of any of these new technologies was unlikely this monsoon.
After facing flak from citizens and courts on the poor condition of roads in the financial capital, the civic body has now decided to undertake urgent trials of new technologies. As part of the trials, small stretches of roads have been allotted to three companies – Jaipur-based Shalimar, Kanpur-based AR Thermo and Eco-Green from Austria.
Officials from the Roads department said the material used by Shalimar to fill potholes in the western suburbs appeared to be less than satisfactory while the trials for the two others’ technologies were still going on. “The cost quoted by all the three companies to fill potholes is much higher than our existing technology. Since the High Court has asked us, we are conducting the experiment. So, we will follow a proper procedure before finalising any technology,” said a senior official.
The official said a comprehensive report of these trials would be prepared after the exercise was over. “The report will include details about the condition of the potholes a week before and a week after using these new technologies. Then, there will be a one-month observation period. Following this, we will prepare a report which will be submitted to the Standing Technical Advisory Committee (STAC) on roads for its approval,” he said.
The official said all these companies want bulk work orders totalling Rs 50 crore or more. “But, it is not possible to give them such orders. Our budgetary allocation for pre-monsoon work is Rs 29 crore and for pothole-filling during monsoon, it is Rs 17 crore. So, we need approval from the STAC and then a decision about using any of these technologies can be taken,” he added.
The official said the BMC was unlikely to use any of these technologies this monsoon. “If we don’t follow the process, then we will be blamed for not following procedure or, maybe, favouring a particular technology. We don’t wish to get into that. We know it will take time but have no option,” he added.
Another official said such trials had also been carried out in the past. “But, nothing came of it. We had earlier conducted trials of three technologies but all failed. Then, we started using our own pothole-filling material from the Worli asphalt plant,” he said.