BMC could save 50 per cent in roadwork by simply not digging too deep

The civic body is mulling on framing a rule against unnecessarily digging up an entire road when, in most cases, only the topmost layer gets damaged

After facing flak for alleged corruption in roadwork and cancelling contracts worth crores, the BMC has hit upon another way to save on costs – the civic body is considering a proposal to discontinue the unnecessary digging up of the foundation of roads.

The BMC has questioned why the entire road has to be ripped up needlessly when repairing just the topmost layer can do the job. File pic
The BMC has questioned why the entire road has to be ripped up needlessly when repairing just the topmost layer can do the job. File pic

In most cases, repairs are only needed in the top layer of roads, and ripping out the deeper, stronger layers is not only pointless, but takes up much more time and money.

The BMC’s standard technical advisory committee (STAC) recently met to discuss this proposal and a final decision will soon be taken in the matter. If the proposal were to pass, road improvement works, by default, will no longer require digging up the sub-base or deepest layer unless that is also damaged. This could save as much as 50 per cent costs in the project. “The sub-base is the lowermost layer of the road, largely made up of metal and debris. This is covered with two layers of wet and dry concrete and then a final layer on top. Generally, when a road develops potholes, it is the topmost layer that is damaged and peels off. The lower layers are hardly ever affected. Then why should they be dug up? When this new rule comes into place, the civic body will save up to 50 per cent cost in certain contracts,” said a senior civic official who is a STAC member.

Every year, the BMC is the object of citizens’ wrath after roads get washed away in the monsoon. Road repairs then take ages, inconveniencing motorists across the city.

Earlier this year, there were also complaints of corruption from none other than Mayor Snehal Ambekar. In a confidential letter to the BMC commissioner (dated September 8), she had alleged that there were irregularities in the allotment of road contracts, as well as in the dumping of debris. This was followed by criticism from BJP leader Ashish Shelar, who also demanded a probe. Under the scanner since then, the BMC has cancelled road works running into crores of rupees. Municipal commissioner Ajoy Mehta reviewed and cancelled several of these contracts as the proposed roads were in good condition and did not need repairs. Currently, several contractors and civic officials are being probed for complaints of corruption.

The STAC, therefore, met on Thursday and will continue to hold a series of meetings in the coming week to discuss ways to make the process more transparent. The new proposal was also put forward on these lines.

“Yes, the proposal will be cleared by Monday or Tuesday and will save us a lot of money as services will be delivered sooner. But we will also have to keep in mind the quality of roadwork. Therefore, our engineers will take decisions based on merit. Wherever the revamp of road foundation is required, it will be done,” said M S Pawar, chief engineer (roads).

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