Make maintenance-free roads a reality: Minister

'India too has technology to build durable roads, but it is yet to be used'

“Roads have become drains and drains have become roads.” This rather telling comment came from Union Minister for Road Transport and Highways Oscar Fernandes on Thursday during the valedictory of the two-day regional workshop on promoting use of new technologies, materials, techniques and equipment in road constructions.

He asked the officials of the Indian Road Congress (IRC) to resolve that India will have maintenance-free roads, while narrating his personal experience, while travelling recently between Mandya and Bangalore.

Backbreaking ride

He said that for travelling a mere 100 km, it took him four and a half hours, because of the condition of the road.

He said that the Japanese had made tremendous progress when it came to road networks. India too had the technology to build roads which require no maintenance. But it has still not been used.

Fernandes said that it had been decided to institute an award for best road maintenance for ground level officers as well to ensure that roads remain in good condition.
Earlier, C Kandasamy, president of the IRC, told the gathering that the proposal for a greenfield expressway, including a tunnel, from Bangalore to Mangalore, will be revived.

Decade of innovation

He said that the Centre had declared this decade as the decade of innovation and therefore, we should experiment more with new materials and techniques so as to have long-lasting roads.

Kandasamy said that under one of the government schemes, for every 10 km of road, a one-km stretch will have a new road material.

Dr H C Mahadevappa, State Minister for Public Works, in his speech, briefly underlined the origin of roads and their importance in our day-to-day lives.

He said that there should be an extensive research for improving the roads.

Shiradi Ghat tunnel project soon

The proposed tunnel road project through Shiradi Ghat will be finalised in about three months, Fernandes said.

The Centre has held two rounds of talks with Japan International Cooperation Agency, which has come forward not only to fund the project, but also to provide technical know-how, the minister told reporters.

Besides, the Union Surface Transport Ministry has taken steps for maintenance of the existing road at Shiradi Ghat. An agency has come forward to maintain the road using a new technology.

He said the ministry has given its nod to the State government to spend Rs 1,000 crore for taking up repair of the State highway from Bangalore to Mangalore. The money will be reimbursed in instalments in a span of five years, he added. The State government proposed to upgrade nine State highway roads into National Highway. Approval will be given soon to those which do not need land acquisition, he said.

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