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Danger: Paver blocks ahead

As if the fierce rains lashing the city weren’t assault enough for the roads, paver blocks will add to the woes of motorists this monsoon, yet again. Every year, these blocks lose their grip and get dislodged from their base once they receive the battering of the heavy seasonal rains. The and gaps grooves they leave behind in their wake cause bumps and undulations that make the motorists’ ride not only uncomfortable, but also dangerous.

They also exacerbate the problem of water logging. As part of its campaign to check the rain-readiness of the city, MiD DAY decided to venture into those stretches where paver blocks are likely to create problems once the clouds part. And our verdict is an unhappy one: the paver blocks at most stretches are already giving motorists a bumpy ride, and things are sure to get worse, once the rains kick in and force the blocks out of their groves.

JVLR Junction
The Jogeshwari-Vikroli Link Road (JVLR) junction is one of the most crucial on the Western Express Highway, as motorists moving into Vikhroli and the Eastern Express Highway from places like Borivli and Bandra have to use it for their commute. Large stretches of this junction are paved with paver blocks.

The stretch was found to be extremely uneven, with sudden depressions in the paved stretches. This doesn’t bode well for motorists, who already have to change lanes to avoid bumps. The situation is sure to take a turn for the worse once the monsoons kick in. The stretch is now in the process of being concretised. A PWD official, requesting anonymity, said, “We wanted to concretise the road before the monsoons; however, we couldn’t obtain police permission in time for the same. The work of concretising the road is expected to finish by the end of June.” Asked if he didn’t feel that it was too late to make the necessary changes, he said, “The problem with paver blocks is that they get displaced during the monsoons. But we will repair the same if such is the case.”

Voices
Depressions on the road caused by paver blocks causes unevenness and hampers smooth driving. It forces motorists to change lanes. During monsoons, the paver blocks will come undone and the surface will become more uneven. This will lead to water logging and traffic jams.
— Angad Kabhare (22), Employee at a private firm

Unevenness of the road causes severe problems for the motorists and puts them at the risk of accidents. Rather than wasting money on paver blocks, the authorities should concretise the road, as it is the best solution and will save a lot of public money which is being wasted in fixing paver blocks.
— Pradeep Neena, MBA student

Saki Naka junction, stretch along Versova-Andheri-Ghatkopar Metro rail construction
The motorist driving along the VAG corridor on JP and on the Andheri-Ghatkopar Link Road in Andheri (West) this monsoon may have to grimace through bumpy rides, especially at the Saki Naka junction.

Last year, the paver blocks fixed to the sides of the road started coming off as soon as the rains started. While residents and commuters using this road have been requesting the authorities to concretise the roads, MMRDA had a rationale to offer. MMRDA Joint Project Director Dilip Kawatkar said, “We have concretised a major part of the road, but we have used paver blocks in some parts as underground utilities pass underneath.”MiD DAY inspected the stretch to find sudden uneven stretches of paver blocks, to negotiate which vehicles have to slow down, increasing chances of accidents and skidding.

Voices
Because of sudden uneven stretches of paver blocks there is serious risk of bikes skidding. Motorists are at the risk of serious accidents because of this. Last year, the blocks, which were fixed on the side of the road, had become uneven after the monsoon, and there was also severe water logging. It is the waste of public money on fixing paver blocks.
— Tarun Rajaputhran (22), Student

Because of the sudden uneven patches due to paver blocks, motorists have to apply sudden brakes to lower their speed. As a result, they are at risk of getting hit by other vehicles that are plying behind them.
— Harish Yadav (33), Businessman

Dr Annie Besant Road, Worli
Dr Annie Besant Road is one of the crucial stretches connecting the suburbs to South Mumbai, and as a result experiences heavy traffic throughout the day. The problem on this stretch is that on a huge part of the junction, paver blocks are used to cover potholes.

What is a great source of worry is that when these paver blocks inevitably give way during the monsoon, there will be nothing but the gaping potholes underneath them — a recipe for disaster.

Voices
In order to cover the potholes at the signal junction, they have laid these blocks. But during monsoons the blocks are sure to sink in the flood water causing accidents.
— Bipin Chandani (29), HR executive

How is it that the government agencies fail to learn from their previous mistakes? They are wasting taxpayers’ money by implementing ineffectual ideas to solve a problem that affects motorists every year. No matter how many times these roads are repaired, their condition worsens every monsoon. History will repeat itself this monsoon too.
— Vaibhav Soni (35), Banker

Oshiwara Link Road
On this stretch, paver blocks were placed when problems cropped up in the concretisation work. But the blocks too have proved to be a failure in protecting the road. Curbing under the pressure exerted by passing vehicles, paver blocks are giving way and coming undone.

Voices
We are responsible citizens who pay our road taxes regularly, but we never reap the benefits of our payments.
— Raj Engole (23), Driver

We suffer the most owing to these roads. Our rickshaws are not strong enough to cope with such bad roads.
— Salman ShaikH (35), Auto driver

JVPD Road, Juhu
The Juhu JVPD junction is one of the important junctions in Andheri (West) as it is used by motorists to drive from Lokhandwala, Juhu, Seven Bungalow and Versova towards Andheri station and the Western Express Highway. Paver blocks in this junction are sure to pose problems for motorists.

Voices
I have been using this road for the past 4-5 years, but nothing has been done to fix the undulations.
— Rohan Moolya, Khar

I have been driving a rickshaw for the last 15 years but still haven’t found any change in the condition of the road. I have to drive around the bumps and gaps so that my vehicle isn’t harmed. Paver blocks break during the monsoons, come loose and hit people.
— Yashwant (39), Auto driver

Expertspeak
Jitendra Gupta, member, Citizens’ Transport Committee, said, “Paver blocks have failed majorly at junctions where several types of vehicles halt and regularly pass by. Paver blocks usually sink due to the lack of proper workmanship. While laying these blocks it is very essential to lay sand, and only after pressurising the sand are the blocks to be laid. But usually the entire procedure is not followed. During monsoon, the sand under these blocks erode, forcing the blocks to cave in. These paver blocks usually sink or break under pressure of heavy vehicles.” He added, “According to my sources, most of the factories manufacturing these paver blocks are owned by relatives of politicians. Tenders are given to these manufacturers. Though concretisation of roads involves more time, it provides a more long lasting solution.”

Where are the jet patchers?
In 2008, the BMC had purchased three vehicle-mounted Jet Patcher machines each for island city, the eastern suburbs and western suburbs, for spot repairs of potholes. The machines came at a cost of Rs 78 lakh each, but have been lying unused since the last two years.

The machines can repair potholes within hours, while conventional pothole repairs take at least two days. The BMC has spent about Rs 70 crore on the repair and maintenance of the machines for the past three years, but despite that engineers were unable to use them due to technical glitches.

Inputs: Ranjeet Jadhav, Nivedita Dargalkar, Tejal Mistry, Naveen Nair, Sujit Mahamulkar

Pics: Nimesh Dave, Shadab Khan and Datta Kumbhar  

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