To prevent the haphazard digging of city roads for laying of utilities, the BMC has appointed two consultants to prepare designs and plans for constructing utility ducts.
STUP Consultants and Pantacle-Ecolog (Joint Venture) Consultants will map utilities based on Global Positioning System (GPS), following which utility ducts will be constructed along the roads. The civic body has identified 68 roads where these utility ducts will be constructed.
The consultants will also have to look into reasons behind the poor quality of roads, monitor repair work and keep a check on the roads during their Defect Liability Period (DLP).
While both the consultants were finalised in September, a proposal will have to be tabled before the BMC Standing Committee for final approval. Officials said that these “road design consultants” will be at work for the next five years.
No takers for previous attempts
There are at least 40 types of utilities under Mumbai roads – water pipelines, stormwater drains, electricity cables, telecommunication lines, gas pipelines, sewerage lines and Internet cables. The agencies in charge often dig up freshly laid roads for repair and maintenance work to access these utilities. While creating a utility duct will lead to avoidance of such haphazard digging, previous plans of creating ducts along roads have had little success as they remain unused at many locations.
The civic body is often criticised for bad roads and potholes facing the city, especially in monsoon. One major reason behind potholes or uneven patches on roads is haphazard digging by utility companies. Over 40 utility agencies like the BMC’s water and storm water drain departments, BEST and telecom units have underground utilities.
“Since most of these underground utilities are emergency services and in many cases, the agencies dig newly repaired roads. This unsettles the road surface, as the repair work done by these agencies is not as good as the original repair. Later, such surfaces develop potholes and uneven patches. Constructing utility ducts will give relief from this problem,” said a senior official from the BMC roads department.
According to the civic body, 68 roads from island city and suburbs – having length of about 60 km – have been chosen for planning of utility ducts. Some of these roads are P D Mello Road, Walkeshwar Road, B A Road, Saki Vihar Road, V N Purav Road, Carter Road, Akurli Road and S V Road. They are from 9 m to 36 m wide. Mumbai has over 2,000-km of road network.
Last year, then municipal commissioner Praveen Pardeshi had pushed for a concrete solution for potholes. The civic body had invited expression of interest to appoint road design consultants. The Indian Express had reported on August 23, 2019 about BMC’s idea of constructing utility ducts for underground utilities.
A senior civic official said, “The consultants will survey roads and traffic movement, perform GPS-based mapping of utilities and also look into why certain stretches of roads witness frequent potholes. If there is a utility duct, then digging of the entire stretch of road can be avoided.”
However, this is not the first time that BMC has planned for laying ducts. In 2010, a similar plan of constructing utility ducts was taken up but it did not work out.
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