Many roads across the city are, finally, getting a fresh coat of asphalt. In a city notorious for the coat of asphalt on the road lasting only until the next monsoon , questions have been raised about their quality.
The Bruhat Bangalore Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) has handed over the work of asphalting the roads to the Karnataka Rural Infrastructure Development Ltd. (KRIDL), a government agency.
BBMP officials told The Hindu that the composition of base macadam and bituminous concrete is decided after Benkelman Beam Deflection (BBD) test. “This is a requirement as per the Indian Road Congress. The BBD test is used to evaluate the existing road structure and calculate the thickness of asphalt required by taking into account various factors, including density of vehicular movement on the road.”
While the officials claimed that quality checks were conducted and bills cleared only thereafter, a senior councillor, on condition of anonymity, disputed it. He alleged that quality was not being maintained and that there was no transparency. “The thickness of the asphalt on the main roads is not enough. It does not seem like it will withstand the movement of heavy vehicles and thus, is not likely to last. Only the surface is being repaired, without any real strengthening of the road structure. If done as per IRC regulations, the roads will last for a minimum of five years,” he said.
The councillor said that the BBMP and the government, which was funding the asphalting, were violating the Karnataka Transparency in Public Procurement Act. “Since there is no transparency, the government should be held solely responsible for the poor quality work,” he said and questioned why asphalting was taken up just ahead of elections.
Capt. M.M. Harish, chairperson of the civic affairs committee, Federation of Karnataka Chambers of Commerce and Industry, said that the government seemed to be rushing the work and termed it an “election mode activity.” Stressing on a proper quality checking mechanism, he sought to know if the BBMP’s Quality Control Cell had conducted any tests.
BBMP Commissioner M. Lakshminarayan conceded that the civic body’s Quality Control Cell was grossly under-staffed. Claiming that the quality was being monitored by the engineers of the Major Works Department, he said that the thickness of the asphalt was specified in the estimate. “Not all roads require a uniform thickness. Some roads that are not damaged much may need smoothening of the top layer.”
He said that the roads are intended for five years, including a three-year defect liability period. He also claimed that since there is no certainty in floating tenders for these works, the government decided to entrust the work to KRIDL. He also assured that the asphalting would be completed before the onset of monsoon.
Only the next round of rains will testify the veracity of this claim.