The northeast monsoon, a boon for the city, continues to be a bane for city roads. Following the recent rain, several roads, particularly in the interior areas, have been damaged, making it very difficult for motorists.

What is it that makes some roads more vulnerable than others? Is it about quality or poor maintenance? The intervention by the Chennai Corporation is expected to make roads better, but the long wait of motorists for roads that are capable of enduring the test of the monsoon is bothering many of them .

“People who ride motorcycles are the worst affected. Bad roads are responsible for more strain on the spinal cord with long-term health risks. It also affects the vehicle,” said A.Rajan, a resident of Nungambakkam, who uses a two-wheeler to commute to his bank in Parrys.

However, there was no water logging in the subway near Loyola College this year, he said. “Similar efforts have to be taken by the civic body to make the road surface smoother.”

Mu.Mohan, one of the contractors of the Chennai Corporation said, “If the civic body ensures service ducts in all roads, we are ready to guarantee a smooth, pothole-free road for five-years.”

Contractors of the damaged road are asked by the civic body to rectify the defects in a week’s time. If they fail to execute the work, they are disqualified from being part of the list of more than 400 contractors, he said.

According to experts, focus on monitoring of minor aspects such as avoiding overheating of bitumen to lay roads easily, removal of encroachments on roads, provision of surface drainage and use of quality and unadulterated mix for roads would improve conditions. Eliminating the basic flaws in road laying would help, he says.

S.Pandian, president, Paver Finishing Road Builders’ Association, said road specification had not been changed in proportion to the rise in the number of vehicles. During rain, when vehicles move slowly due to water stagnation, there is further pressure on roads, leading to more damage. Earlier, the top layer of the road was 40-mm thick. It has now been reduced to 25 mm. Similarly, the layer below, made of bigger blue metal stones, was 70-mm thick and has been reduced to 50 mm.

I.V. Sashi Kumar, secretary of Exnora Club of Anna Nagar, said several roads dug up by Metrowater in Anna Nagar were neither re-laid nor filled up properly after completion of work. Proper care should be taken while digging up roads and officials and workers should be made accountable for faulty work, he said.

J.Balaji, a resident of Thiru Vi Ka Nagar, asked when roads such as Rajaji Salai and Kamarajar Salai last long, why other roads in the city are not laid well. “There are some stretches, especially in north Chennai, that remain bad throughout the year. These could be made concrete to prevent frequent relaying,” he said.

A road expert, who did not want to be named, said that using building debris for filling pot holes was not in the list of approved filling materials. Either red earth or hot mix must be used, he said.

Lalitha of Santhome said a large number of roads, including 5th Avenue Anna Nagar, Spurtank Road, L.B. Road, Greenways Road, 2nd Avenue Besant Nagar, Pantheon Road, Tiruvottiyur High Road and S N Chetty Road in north Chennai and CTH Road, were in bad shape this year.

“If the authorities concerned had ensured that storm water drains were desilted before, rainwater would not have stagnated,” she said.

Chennai Corporation Commissioner Rajesh Lakhoni said damaged road surfaces were being scrapped so that movement of vehicles would not be impeded much. Cold milling would help reduce the cost of relaying roads. “We have identified 28 very bad stretches of 50–100 metres that need attention. We are now planning to include the rule that the contractor, who laid the road, has to maintain it for one year. If potholes are formed after the rain they will be asked to restore the road from their own funds.”

(With inputs from Aloysius Xavier Lopez, Deepa H Ramakrishnan and Vidya Venkat)

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