Why Thane's roads are lying in tatters

Updated: Aug 21, 2019, 09:01 IST | Anamika Gharat

mid-day's ground level inspection reveals contractors are filling up bad roads and potholes with loose gravel, sand and dry cement; a former civic consultant explains why this is wrong and what the right way is

Why Thane's roads are lying in tatters
On Waghbil bridge, gravel had spilled out of potholes and spread all over. Pic /Anamika Gharat

In a hurry to try and fill up the pothole-ridden roads in Thane, Kalyan and Dombivli, some authorities seem to be using a lousy quick-fix, which includes heaps of gravel and no tar. Instead of helping solve the problem, the mix is throwing up gravel and pebbles on the road, further endangering citizens' commute, and is also leading to potholes resurfacing on the stretches.

After being pressured by the media and citizens, civic and road officials in Thane, Kalyan and Dombivli finally took up the task of filling potholes. Unfortunately, none of them are filling the potholes appropriately. On the Patri pul to Kon village stretch, the workers appointed by MSRDC to fill up the potholes were seen using a mix of gravel, sand and dry cement. They were spreading the mix with their legs.

Also Read: Thane residents gather in silence to poke holes in pothole-filling claims

Filling pothole
Near Kon village, workers push mix into potholes with their feet. Pic /Anamika Gharat

Upon being asked why they weren't using tar or cement grout in the mix, Sunil Salvi, who was in-charge of the workers, told mid-day, "We are using gravel and sand. Jo bole hai wahi karenge na (we will do as we're told). The main in-charge has gone out for tea, he has all the details. For an almost 10 to 15 km stretch, we have been asked to fill potholes in this way."

Just gravel

Even worse is the situation on Ghodbunder road, where MMRDA is filling potholes with just gravel. On the pothole-ridden Waghbil bridge, the gravel has spilled out of the potholes and spread all over the road. Rest of the corporation are filling the potholes in the same way except the Thane Municipal Corporation, which is using a mix of tar and gravel.

The Ulhasnagar Municipal Corporation has not yet started filling potholes because they have not yet issued the tender for it this year. mid-day repeatedly reached out to MSRDC and MMRDA officials, but they were reluctant to respond to text messages and did not answer any calls.

Also Read: BMC takes a 'rough' look at Mumbai's roads

Road expert says

Vilas Deshmukkh
Dr Vilas Deshmukh. Pic /Anamika Gharat

Meanwhile, mid-day spoke to Dr Vilas Deshmukh, who is a researcher and road expert, about the methods in which the potholes are being filled. He was of the opinion that no one is filling potholes the right way. Deshmukh had joined TMC as a consultant to build the first UTWT (ultra thin white topping) road in Powai at the L&T gate and at Ghantali road in Thane. Deshmukh made some changes in the method that was invented in America while he was working for the ACC and also helped the company get a patent for it. The Ghantali road has stayed the same for 12 years, without any potholes.

Dr Deshmukh said, "The first solution to make all roads pothole-free road is to use UTWT technology. Those roads last for more than 12 to 15 years with very minimal maintenance. By using pebbles, gravel and sand, one can fill up the potholes but no one follows the correct process. First, the size of the pothole and its condition have to be checked. If it is small, some space has to made inside it so that the material poured inside has space to stick in. Later, the pothole should be cleaned completely, after which the BM hotmix and cement grout should be poured into it. It is a very simple and less expensive process, but contractors don't want to do it in the right way and corporation engineers don't bother checking the work."

Authorities say

Road potholesNear Kon village flyover, potholes seem to have been hastily filled with some stones and gravel. Pic /Anamika Gharat

UMC commissioner Sudhakar Deshmukh said, "We could not process the tender for the repair of the roads. But, I have sent out an order to fill the potholes in the next few days." TMC deputy commissioner Sandip Malvi said, "Due to the monsoon, we could not finish filling the potholes, but before Ganpati, we have set a target to fill all potholes, which we have already started working on." Devidas Pawar, chief officer, Ambernath Municipal Corporation said, "When I joined (AMC) I filled up all the potholes, but due to heavy rain, the roads have been ruined again. We will fix all potholes soon."

Also Read: Mumbai: Only two of four killer potholes filled in a year in Kalyan, Dombivli

Commuters injured

Road repairingOn the Patri pul to Kon village stretch, the workers appointed by MSRDC to fill up the potholes were seen using a mix of gravel, sand and dry cement. Pic /Anamika Gharat

'I tried to turn my bike to save myself from a pothole, but the gravel on the road made my bike skid. I could not walk for a week because my right leg was swollen. With a child at home, it gets very difficult to manage with an injured leg. Also, I will lose my salary if I stay at home any longer'
Suvrna Manke, injured at Ambedkar chowk in Badlapur

'Near Teen Hath Naka, there were pebbles and gravel on the road. Because of the pressure of a truck, a pebble hit my helmet. I was unable to control my bike and it skidded' Chetan Yerapalle, injured his leg in Thane

No. of years the UTWT road in Thane has stayed covered in potholes

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