Over the past few years, the Bruhat Bangalore Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) claims to have tried every trick in the book to fill potholes that routinely appear even on newly laid roads in the city. Right from experimenting with hot mix and cold mix asphalt, the BBMP has spent huge sums of money on patching up the roads.
The BBMP has now decided to entrust the pothole filling work to an American company. According to senior officials, this company will take up pothole filling on 1,940 km of the arterial and sub-arterial roads. But there is a glitch: the company’s machine, integral to the pothole filling work, has reportedly been seized by the Customs officials.
A BBMP official said that the civic authority had given the company a letter of acceptance, after the proposal was approved by both the Standing Committee for Major Works and the BBMP Council in March.
“The company, we are told, can get the machine released after paying Customs duty and fine. Once the machine is released, we will sign the agreement and the pothole filling can be taken up right away,” the official said.
The official added that the tender was finalised for Rs. 17 crore and the project has been broken up into six packages to cover all eight zones of the BBMP. The civic authority will pay around Rs. 80,000/ km to the company, which will take up the pothole filling on all roads except those that are still under the defect liability and maintenance period of three years.
“During the defect liability and maintenance period, the contractor will be responsible for the maintenance of the road,” the official said.
Last year, the BBMP had taken up pothole filling in a two-kilometre radius of the Vidhana Soudha. Mayor D. Venkatesh Murthy inaugurated this project by filling a pothole opposite Hotel Chalukya. The new technology, which used cold mix, was hailed as an instant all-weather solution. However, after covering a handful of potholes, the project was not taken up.
The former Deputy Mayor S. Harish, accompanied by several councillors, even visited the Delhi Municipal Corporation, looking for solutions to the city’s perennial pothole problem.
On his return to the city, he had announced that the cold mix machine — Jet Patcher — could fill potholes in 15 minutes flat.
He had even proposed that the BBMP procure eight machines, each priced at Rs. 1.5 crore. However, the plan did not materialise as the proposal was shot down by the Standing Committee for Major Works.
The civic authority making such dead investments is not new. Around 20 years ago, it had got itself an expensive hot mix plant that has been gathering dust in Koramangala. Even today, this white elephant lies idle, surrounded by garbage trucks.
While there may be several solutions to potholes, what the BBMP seems to be lacking is the will to end the problem.