After facing severe public criticism for bad roads in the State, the Public Works Department (PWD) is all set to adopt cold-mix bitumen technology to repair the potholed roads.

“The aim is to break the contractor-engineer-politician nexus. We intend to adopt the all-weather patchwork technology from the coming financial year. Mobile units that use the technology will be stationed in all districts to repair potholes. We hope the venture will reduce traffic hold-ups and accidents caused by potholes,” said a senior PWD official.

However, there are concerns that vested interests might torpedo the project, he said.

Unholy nexus

He said a mobile mechanised patchwork unit was deliberately damaged in Thiruvananthapuram recently to delay roadworks. “The roads are pathetic in Kerala because stakeholders adopt unscrupulous practices and there is undue delay in executing repair works. By the time repairs are done, the condition of roads worsens leading to a string of accidents,” the official added.

NGO’s initiative

Meanwhile, Better Kochi Response Group, an NGO, began an awareness campaign on how the new technology was the right option to repair roads during the rains. A live demo will be held in the city on August 3, followed by one at Thiruvananthapuram on August 7.

“The technology is ideal since it does not need much labour, equipment or heating. A pothole can be repaired single-handedly in 10 to 15 minutes. Vehicles can use the road within an hour of carrying out patchworks. Since heating and melting are not involved there is no air pollution and it is safe for workers. It will not hamper movement of traffic. There will be no sound pollution either. The companies manufacturing the product have given a two-year guarantee,” said S. Gopakumar, the NGO’s president.

The PWD plans to shortlist an agency and give it a year-long contract to repair potholes across the State. Priority will be accorded to restore the National Highways and State Highways using the new technology. The department is awaiting a policy decision on adopting the technology. The contract will considerably lessen the amount of money spent on repairing roads. Though the PWD has a research wing, the department is doubtful about entrusting it with the task of fine-tuning the technology.

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