P. Sudhakar

TIRUNELVELI: Accidents involving two-wheeler riders on two stretches between LIC Divisional Office at Palayamkottai and Kulavanigarpuram Railway Gate and Chellapandian traffic island and Murugankurichi traffic signal here have become routine affair as these recently re-laid portions on the Tirunelveli - Nagercoil National Highway have developed serious undulations.

After this road was dissected for the underground drainage project of Tirunelveli Corporation some months ago and pipes were laid to carry the sewage to Ramaiyanpatti disposal yard, the trenches should have been filled-up in several stages so that consolidation of the dug-up earth would have been possible. The contract signed by the Corporation and the contractor for the implementation of the Rs. 52-crore underground drainage scheme says that water should be poured in the trench in several stages to ensure cent per cent consolidation and adequate time provided for firming up of the badly disturbed earth.

"In that case, the contractor should have gradually filled-up the trench in several phases and water should have been poured in on every layer of sand to facilitate the consolidation process. Precisely, the contractor should have followed stage-filling method before handing over the stretch to us for laying the road. However, the trench has been filled-up in a hasty manner and stage-filling method was not followed at any circumstance. Ultimately, the loose soil has sunken to a greater extent to trigger serious undulations on this busy road," admitted a top official of Department of National Highways.

When the national highways engineers tested the consolidation percentage of this stretch before commencing the road laying exercise, it was only between 60 to 65 per cent. However, engineers and other leading road contractors here admit that roads should be laid on any surface which had a minimum of 98 per cent consolidation to avoid early undulations.

"Since we found only 60 to 65 per cent of consolidation, we certainly anticipated this wavy surface in a very short period," said another national highways official. Whenever the bike riders cross these wavy surfaces even at average speed, they lose control over their vehicle as the two-wheeler suddenly skids-off. Moreover, the manholes provided on this road are also protruding dangerously, causing more grave mishaps everyday, which triggered argument between officials of NHAI and Tirunelveli Corporation in a meeting held here on Wednesday.

The Executive Engineer, Tirunelveli Corporation, Narayanan Nair, told The Hindu that the NHAI officials should not have laid the road after scientifically detecting that the consolidation was only 60 to 65 per cent against the minimum requirement of 98 per cent.

"Had they informed us without commencing the work, we could have asked the TWAD Board, the agency executing underground drainage project, to rectify it. But things have happened in the other way. Anyway, some rectification measure would be initiated in the best interest of the road-users," Mr. Nair said.