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No golden fillings for roads

Mohit M. Rao
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Procedural delay, reluctant contractors spell doom for repair plans

Even as the monsoon draws to a close, the Mangalore City Corporation (MCC) hasn’t been able to formulate a concrete plan for filling potholes. And, indications are that even when the filling process starts, it may not be a ‘permanent’ solution.

MCC Executive Engineer G.V. Rajashekhar said that Phase I of the pothole filling process was being finalised. “The cost estimates or the identification of all potholes have not yet been finalised. We have to consider the availability of funds,” he said.

This is just the start of a long process. After the proposals are decided upon and the budgets allocated — around Rs. 1 crore according to an MCC engineer — the process of calling tenders can begin.

As the engineer explains, the government estimates are much below the actual costs needed to fill potholes. “Because of this, no contractor responds to the tender calls. We call multiple tenders and pressure contractors to take it up,” said the engineer.

However, the process is at the mercy of the rains. “We can’t do it until the rains subside,” Mr. Rajashekhar said. Until then, potholes will be filled with mud and stone dust.

Political pressure

An engineer admitted that potholes recurred because of low quality of work and political pressure. “The contractor has to take out the pothole-ridden section of road and re-lay it. But, it doesn’t happen because of the insufficient funds, and pressure from councillors to patch roads fast.”

The result is that hairline fractures are inherent in potholes, and in the next rains, percolated water breaks the asphalt, causing the pothole to reappear.

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