The Chandigarh Municipal Corporation has started the work of ‘reshaping’ six roundabouts on a pilot basis at a cost of Rs 1.40 crore — 19 years after the same civic body had tried, tested and rejected the same plan.
As per details, in 2003, the UT municipality had carried out the revamp of the roundabout separating sectors 5/6/8/9 by reducing the height of the outer wall. However, the civic body had later, after receiving multiple complaints, restored the roundabout to its original height and declared the project unsuccessful.
SK Chadha, former chief engineer of Chandigarh, who has also served in the Chandigarh municipality in the same capacity, told The Indian Express, “A similar project of redesigning the roundabouts by reducing the outer wall (pathway) was carried out in 2003. The revamp of the roundabout of Sectors 5,6,8,9 was to be done on a pilot project. All I can say is that it was unsuccessful during that time.”
According to the present plan, six roundabouts will be ‘improved’ by the Chandigarh Municipal Corporation.
The roundabouts that are being ‘improved’ are roundabouts separating sectors 14/15/24/25, roundabout separating sectors 15/16/23/24, roundabout separating sectors 36/37/41/42, and the roundabout separating 37/38/40/41, sectors 19/27/20/30 and sectors 31/32/4/47.
Contacted, Chandigarh municipality commissioner, Anindita Mitra, stated that the ‘improvement’ to roundabouts was being done as per decision of the Road Safety Council.
“The decision to improve the roundabouts was taken during a meeting of the Road Safety Council, chaired by Adviser Dharam Pal. The work is being executed as per standard drawing issued by CAUT, wherein height of outer periphery ( 6 feet width) is being reduced from 2′ 3″ to 8 inches so as to avoid/ reduce the impact of vehicular collision and to avoid fatal accidents. There will be no change in geometrics of the rotary.”
Subhash Chawla, who was the UT mayor in 2003, said they had to trash the project then as ‘it was a blunder’ and water accumulation near the roundabout would make it more risk-prone for motorists after the wall’s height was reduced.
“Initially we kept the height around six inch from the road. But that led to a number of accidents, with motorists colliding with the footpath. We then increased the height of the outer wall by 12 inches. The second problem that will happen if the outer wall’s height is reduced is that water will get accumulated near the roundabouts after rainfall, as there will be no proper drainage. Once there is waterlogging, the outer wall is not clearly visible, leading to accidents. In 2013, this same proposal had been mooted once, but I had then shelved it,” Chawla said.
He added that the main problem was that there was no concrete policy regarding the roundabouts. “Officers on whim start reshaping them. In my twenty years as mayor, I have never found one concrete ground for the reshaping of a roundabout.”
Chawla added that after the installation of CCTV cameras, speeding had been controlled in Chandigarh and “not many accidents take place near the roundabouts”.
RK Garg, who has written an email to UT Administrator Banwarilal Purhoit and UT Adviser Dharam Pal, strongly criticising the present move, said that teh Chandigarh civic body was ignoring lessons learnt from its past experience.
“Near the outer boundary of certain roundabouts, like the one in sector 37 and 27, there are huge trees. Some royndabouts have electricity poles. These trees and poles haven’t been shifted before remaking the inner periphery walls. The civic corporation did not think about the problems while handing out tenders for the work. Money will be wasted and commuters will be put at risk if this project is carried out,” he said in his email to the administration.
As per details, the ‘improvement’ work includes reducing the height of the outer periphery by reconstructing, using reflective tapes, cat’s eye and signages. The official cost per roundabout, as per estimates, has been worked out to approximately Rs 24 lakh.
For instance, though officials claim that mostly recycled items from the C&D waste plant will be used, an engineer, on the condition of anonymity, said that some new bricks will need to be used. If 2000 plus bricks are purchased, he said, then it will work out to a cost of around Rs 8 per brick, a total of Rs 16,000. For 6000 new bricks, the cost will be around Rs 48,000.
“Sand rates are around Rs 3800 per 100 feet plus 5 per cent GST, which means if a roundabout of 150 feet area is taken, then the cost works out to around Rs 5700 plus GST. Cement is priced at Rs 328 plus 28 percent GST and labour charges are Rs 800 and helper Rs 500 per person,” the engineer said.
Everything included, he claimed, the civic body will not spend more than Rs 3 lakh per roundabout for the revamp work, he claimed, much lesser than the Rs 24 lakh estimate of the municipality.
Former mayor Chawla said that the key problem in funds is that mostly non-scheduled rates are preferred, which gives the civic body the licence to spend as much as it wants for a particular job.