May 13, 2009 11:03:10 pm
It is that time of the year again. Another fortnight for the monsoons (one week ahead of normal schedule,according to IMD) to arrive and three days for the deadline set by the Pune Municipal Corporation (PMC) to stop digging roads ahead of the rains. Many of the roads-funded by JNNURM,including a few that were spruced up ahead of the Commonwealth Youth Games (CYG) in October-are now being dug up all over again,evidently leading to a significant cost over-run,and the authorities are behaving as if the May 15 stop digging deadline is not applicable to such projects. Starting today,a countdown on Roads To Nowhere.
The PMC,that had for many years faced severe criticism for the poor condition of the city roads,had managed to pull up its socks last year and do away with the many potholes that dotted city roads. But this year was the litmus test as it went in for a major overhaul of many roads partly tarred roads getting fully tarred and some even getting a concrete facelift with funds readily available form the JNNURM.
In fact,there has been a free flow of funds to spruce up city roads the total approved money under JNNURM is Rs 1,032 crore (under BRTS) and the city has spent Rs 800 crore so far. But the basic flaws that have dogged the civic administrations approach to road works have remained untouched it continued to rush into surfacing of roads only to dig them up a few weeks later to lay pipelines and cables.
The result: with hardly any time left for the rains to arrive,many parts of the city showcase a common sight roads once completed,getting dug up all over again and the innards cables,pipelines,ducts et al spilling over on to the roadsides. Little wonder then that the citizens are wary of yet another monsoon season with portions of arterial roads turned into deep ravines.
There is no doubt that the expenses for the civic body are going to increase due to the duplication of work. The blame lies in improper planning by the administration for which the public has to bear the burden, said Vivek Velankar of Sajag Nagrik Manch. The civic administration merely announces deadlines for no digging but it rarely follows its own norms,he said.
Prashant Inamdar of Pedestrians First agreed. It was expected that the work will be taken up on a war footing after the deadline was announced,but nothing of the sort is visible. It seems the civic administration has no control over the ongoing work as the contractors carry out the work at their own pace and the May 15 deadline has no bearing on them, he said.
The PMC blames the haste with which it had to get roads ready for the CYG the two examples being the incomplete stretch on Baner and the storm water drainage on the Ganeshkhind Road that is still getting ready,months after the road got ready. The stretch from Sancheti Hospital to University of Pune that had a cost estimate of Rs 38.29 crore is still incomplete. The PMC is not willing to admit that duplication of work has resulted in any cost overrun.
The work could not be completed for the CYG and it was decided that work will be taken up after the games. Accordingly,the work on constructing storm water drain is going on and there is no additional burden on the exchequer as the contractor was informed about it in advance, Vinay Deshpande,officer on special duty,JNNURM project,PMC,said.
Meanwhile,the contractors are pushing ahead with work on Paud Road and Sinhagad Road. The work will continue in the monsoon as well,but it would be ensured that there is no digging of work after May 15, Deshpande said.
According to the latest report,the Sinhagad Road work is merely 50 per cent complete,with Paud Road shaping no better. Indications are that there will be no let up on digging either as MSEB duct,storm water drainage line are all in progress at various locations on Sinhagad Road while footpath and cycle track construction work is yet to be completed on Paud Road.
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