Year after year the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) has attracted citizens’ ire over pothole-ridden roads. The BMC has now planned ducts for utilities while building new roads, a move aimed at avoiding repeated digging of roads by agencies that have utilities underground. The Indian Express explains whether or not this will address Mumbai’s pet peeve of poor road infrastructure.
How can ducts rid the city’s roads of potholes?
Mumbai has a road network of over 2,000-kms and a very small number of roads have ducts for underground utilities. Citing ’emergency work’, agencies with underground utilities are allowed to dig up roads anytime and anywhere. If the city’s roads have ducts for utilities, then it would spare the city roads from multiple and repeated digging and utilities can be accessed only by reaching ducts along the road alignment. All the utilities can be shifted in these ducts and in case of any repair work, the whole road need not be dug up. This may prevent the shoddy repair work that follows the digging and reduce the chances of potholes.
How does digging for underground utilities take place in Mumbai?
For persistent pothole problem in Mumbai, the BMC has often blamed utility agencies that have underground networks for digging roads and failing to repair the dug-up patches as per the standards laid down by it. These utility agencies include emergency services like gas line, water pipelines and telecommunication lines that often dig roads for their urgent repair work. After the work, the agencies pay civic body to repair the dug up patches. However, in most of the cases, the contractor fails to repair the dug-up patch. This leaves the patch shoddy and ripe for potholes to surface. Since newly-repaired roads are also not spared from digging for utilities, motorists continue their bumpy ride in most parts of Mumbai.
What are the challenges before the BMC for implementing this policy?
The BMC has planned to laying ducts along and under the city’s roads but this is not the first time that the corporation is attempting this. Earlier, its attempts have failed due to several reasons. There were roads where ducts were laid but the utility agencies did not use them since, they claimed, they were not given proper connections and only a small portion of the road was covered. Another major problem in laying the ducts is that there has to be space along the roads. But in a city like Mumbai, there are several arterial roads that have road width of less than 30 feet due to encroachments. In such cases, the ducts can not be laid unless encroachment is cleared and the road is widened. Also, in many cases to cut down expenses, the utility companies lay cables as per their convenience and do not use the available ducts.