The Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) plans to make it a policy to lay utility ducts while constructing new roads or repairing existing ones. The idea is to prevent utility agencies from digging roads haphazardly and make them less vulnerable to potholes.
An official from the Road Department said only a few roads will be chosen initially. Vinod Chithore, director (Engineering and Special Projects) told The Indian Express, “We will identify two roads each in the island city, the western and eastern suburbs. All the utilities in the chosen stretch will be identified and then shifted to the newly laid ducts along the roads. To make them more usable, cross ducts will be provided.”
A senior Road Department official said, “The work to identify roads will begin post October 1, when we start road repair work after the monsoon is over. In the pilot project, the roads will be identified and chosen in new contracts that will be awarded. Along with reconstruction, we will add a clause of laying of ducts in the contract. The work will be completed in at least two years.”
There are at least 40 types of underground utilities under the city’s roads, among them water pipelines, stormwater drains, electricity cables, telecommunication lines, gas pipelines, sewerage lines and internet cables. The agencies in-charge often dig roads for repair and maintenance work.
The BMC’s policy change has come after Municipal Commissioner Praveen Pardeshi sought a sustainable solution to prevent potholes while focusing on utilities. However, this is not the first time the civic body is trying to tackle the trouble it has had with underground utilities. Previous plans of creating ducts along roads have had little success as they remain unused at many locations. “We have to ensure all the underground utilities use ducts, as we have faced problems in this regard earlier. Many ducts that were laid under roads in the past, especially on cement concrete, remain unused as the utility agencies dig roads wherever required to save money.”
The BMC will appoint an agency to map all underground utilities to create a database. Currently, the BMC only has data of their own networks, like water or stormwater drain lines, but not of private utility agencies. “Soon, we will invite expression of interest for appointing a consultant to map the city’s utilities. The consultant will collect data on private utilities. But it would be a very difficult and mammoth task to map utilities along at least 2,000 km of roads,” said an official from the Roads and Traffic Department.