In a first,BMC mulls roughness index to ensure smooth roads

The BMC has proposed a “roughness index” to guarantee even road surface,in its action plan presented to the Bombay High Court Thursday

Written by Alison Saldanha | Mumbai | Published: September 6, 2013 1:49 am

The BMC has proposed a “roughness index” to guarantee even road surface,in its action plan presented to the Bombay High Court Thursday.

“After potholes are filled,the road is still not smooth. Earlier,there was no objective way of ascertaining the road’s roughness except to feel the bumps. We are now working with IIT-Bombay for setting up this scientific index,” municipal commissioner Sitaram Kunte said.

Chief Justice Mohit Shah and Justice M S Sanklecha had taken suo motu cognisance of a July 24 letter by Justice Gautam Patel pointing out the pathetic condition of roads that had led to fatal accidents. The hearing was attended by Kunte,Advocate General Darius Khambata,Thane municipal commissioner Aseem Gupta,Navi Mumbai municipal Commissioner Abasaheb Jarhad,joint commissioner of police Vivek Phansalkar,senior officials from the Mira-Bhayander and Vasai-Virar municipal corporations,and the Public Works Department.

The chief justice said the hearing was not to find faults with the civic body but to strengthen its hands in dealing with the problem. In the BMC’s presentation,additional municipal commissioner SVR Srinivas said a baseline survey would be carried out on roads to set up a standard roughness index. “We will check the index even for roads that are under the defect liability period (DLP) before paying the contractor. If the road is not up to the mark,the contractor will have to redo the work before we release payment,” he said.

Taking the court’s suggestion to focus more on quality than cost when awarding tenders,BMC said each bidder will be assessed on performance (70 marks) and financial aspects (30 marks). “If among the finalised companies,one has scored the highest in quality but is not the lowest financially,we could still give the tender to that firm,” Kunte said.

The Chief Justice,however,criticised BMC’s method of ascertaining the bidder’s performance,which is based merely on supporting documents submitted by the company. “You must check the quality of at least two projects from each bidder before awarding the contracts. You cannot rely on these documents,they could say anything,you have to check yourself,” the chief justice said.

The court also observed that the BMC’s delays in appointing contractors for capital works had affected the condition of roads. To this,Srinivas said,“There have been delays in awarding contractors over the past couple of years. Now,we have made it mandatory to award contracts by latest November/December.”

Commenting on the BMC’s points system to ensure timely repairs by DLP road contractors and road engineers,the court said the fact that there is a pothole is a negative mark. “If a pothole remains unrepaired,it is negligence on the part of the engineer and even negligence is misconduct,” Chief Justice Shah said.

Phansalkar said the Mumbai Traffic Police have regularly coordinated with the BMC,and that they are the affected party. “Not only do our men have to deal with the bad roads,but we also have to contend with the peoples’ angst.” Responding to suggestion to ban motor vehicles (HMVs) such as trucks and trailers from certain roads,Phansalkar said,“HMVs bring many necessary supplies to the city. Rather than banning them from certain roads,we should increase the capacity of our roads.”

The court also asked the PWD to present its action plan for maintaining the Western Express Highway,Eastern Express Highway and Sion Panvel highway at the hearing next month.

alison.saldanha@expressindia.com

In the Pipeline

* The BMC will raise the performance guarantee in the contract from the current 3 per cent to 17 per cent for those companies that bid lower than 20 per cent of the estimated cost

* HC has asked senior principal scientist NKS Pundhir of the Central Road Research Institute to assist the civic bodies in using cold mix,which is deemed as a better and cost-effective technology for filling potholes even during rain

* The BMC is appointing consultants to study chronic waterlogging spots and suggest measures

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