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City is digger's dream, motorist's nightmare

With the monsoons over, BMC, MMRDA, MSRDC and utility companies are hard at work on simultaneous projects,  have been digging up streets in every corner, leaving citizens to negotiate pockmarked and barricaded roads
 
'No pain, no gain.' Civic and developmental bodies, which have simultaneously dug up streets across the city for a slew of projects, are taking cover behind this dictum. But for commuters and pedestrians who have to negotiate the perilous stretches and wait for interminable durations in resultant traffic snarls, this is mere lip service.


Long way to go: BMC's Standing Committee Chairman Rahul Shewale
said that the warranty period of many city roads has expired, owing to
which they are under re-construction. Pic /Pradeep Dhivar


Making the most of the winter, various public authorities like BMC, MMRDA, MSRDC and other utility companies like Mahanagar Gas and Reliance have been hard at work over the past few weeks, laying lines, replacing pipelines, fixing storm water drains and concretising roads.

While these parallel projects have rendered the city's already scarred surface into a deplorable eyesore, hapless citizens have no other option but to count the days. But judging from the lengthy deadlines set by different bodies, they have a long, excruciating wait in store.

BMC projects
A senior official from the BMC said, "Digging of roads usually commences after the monsoons, and this year there is more of it happening, because many roads are being concretised and asphalted, work that cannot be done during the rains. We are also digging roads to fix leaks, plant new water or sewage pipelines, and place storm water drains. It is true that commuters are being inconvenienced, but we have asked contractors to clear the debris and put up barricades and signboards alerting people that work is going on."

BMC's Standing Committee Chairman Rahul Shewale said, "We do care about citizens, and that is precisely why the roads are being dug up, so they are concretised and pothole-proof next year. We can avoid the recurrent expenses incurred in repairing the potholes every year. The warranty period of many city roads has expired, owing to which they are under re-construction."

According to received data, 161 major roads are presently under construction, with 80 per cent of the work having been completed in the past month. Contracts worth Rs 550 crore for major roads, and Rs 375 crore for minor roads were signed in October. This means that citizens have to brace themselves for months of uneven, debris-laden, or barricaded roads.

Arch drains
It doesn't end with roads. Repair work on 12 kilometres of arch drains will begin soon in the city proper. "Proposals for contracts worth Rs 250 crore will be submitted. In total, there are 58 arch drain projects, of which 48 have achieved completion," said Chief Engineer (storm water drain), L S Vhatkar.

He added that once repaired, the drains would prevent rainwater from accumulating in the city streets. Three to four minor drains are under repair in each of the BMC wards.

Sewage work
Around 100 projects of the sewerage department are also in progress across the city, for which two to three roads have been dug up in every ward, said an official. "Sewer lines are old and in need of replacement. Some have leakages. Some areas are in urgent need of more sewers," he said.

Water department
Water department has 14 projects under way to augment the city's water supply. Seven of these are to fix leakages in pipelines.

"The other seven projects are for setting up new pipelines, replace old valves and pipes," said an official.
Hydraulic Engineer R Bamble said, "Three major projects for setting up new pipelines are under way in the city. These may take a year to reach completion, without counting the monsoons." 

With inputs from Anamika More, Dimpi Thakkar, Rinkita Gurav and Ranjeet Jadhav

Work in progress

At Mulund
Work on a 524-metre long road in Mulund (West) has been progressing slowly. At the three construction sites in Mulund (West) -- Ganesh Gawade Road, Zaver Road and RHB Road -- work is crawling along, as is traffic. Work, which started in early October, will be finished only by next March.

At Vile Parle
In the western suburbs, work started in Vile Parle and Andheri in November, and is slated to be completed by March 2012. Approximately 2 kilometres of road will be constructed in Vile Parle, of which 400 metres has been under construction since November. The engineer on site said, "The construction will need at least 9 to 10 months." Commuters and shopkeepers have been bearing the brunt of this construction work. Shopkeeper Suresh Gala said, "The number of customers has dwindled because of this road construction. Customers can't park their cars here, and find it difficult to cross the road, which is riddled with potholes. 

At Bandra
Carter Road, where motor rides are usually a breeze, has now become a motorist's nightmare, owing to ongoing work on storm water drains. TPS road is being concretised. "Cars have to move slowly while heading towards Bandra. TPS Road near St Joseph's Convent School has been dug up completely. Only one lane is open for motorists, and school buses are parked on it," said Rohan Moolya, a resident of Khar.

Other projects 

MMRDA projects

Versova-Andheri-Ghatkopar Metro rail route
Length: 11.07 km
Work started: 2008
Projected date of completion: March 2012
Total project cost: Rs 2,356 crore
Present status: MMRDA claims that over 85 per cent of the work has been completed. The 500 m-long stretch of the road stretching from the Four Bungalow Junction to the Indian Oil Junction on JP Road was closed down in the month of May, for the construction of the metro car access depot. It was scheduled to be reopened two months later, but till date, the eastbound lane remains closed to vehicles. Andheri-bound motorists and BEST buses have to take the circuitous route via
Laxmi Industries, or the Juhu Circle and then Juhu Galli.
MMRDA Joint Project Director Dilip Kawatkar said, "We will check with the MMOPL and see why the road hasn't been re-opened. We will instruct them to complete work at the earliest, so that commuters are no longer inconvenienced."

Jacob Circle-Wadala-Chembur Monorail Project
Total project cost: Rs 2,716 crore
Work started: February 2009
Present status: 85 per cent of the work completed.
The NM Joshi Marg has been barricaded due to the ongoing construction of piers. This regularly leads to traffic congestion in the stretch between Wadala and Jacob Circle. Roads have been barricaded and dug up at Dr GD Ambekar Marg in Parel and RC Marg in Chembur as well.
Kawatkar said, "We regret the inconvenience caused to motorists, but traffic wardens have been posted at all important junctions, to prevent traffic jams from occurring."
 
MSRDC projects

Barfiwala Flyover
Total project cost: Rs 28 crore
Work started: 2005
Present status: The southern arm of the flyover -- passing over Rajiv Gandhi Junction on SV Road in Andheri -- was thrown open to vehicular traffic in the month of July. MMRDA is scheduled to open the other arm in January.
Owing to heavy construction work, roads on the stretch have been barricaded, causing traffic on the flyover to move from Juhu Galli to the Rajiv Gandhi junction at a snail's pace.

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