Not a fool-proof solution, say citizens

Not a fool-proof solution, say citizens

Twenty-nine pothole-infested Bengaluru roads may get white-topped over the next 11 months. Crores of rupees are sanctioned for the deed. However, the city's road-users feel the money pumped into the project will not help the water-logged roads.

Common concerns of most residents are quality of roads, maintenance after white-topping and a holistic approach to solving the drainage issue across the city.

Citizens believe that white-topping is not exactly the right approach to eradicate the pothole issue from its root. “The whole white-topping idea is fine, but the civic authorities are not looking at the root cause of the whole problem. It must go beyond just fixing the potholes,” says Shahasan Noushad, a city-based R&D engineer.

His concern: “They will white-top the roads and believe it is it. But what will happen three months down the line? Are they ensuring regular maintenance for the same? The city would not have reached this condition if we had not waited for the potholes to turn into craters.”

Noushad had switched to car from a bike after suffering from back-problems from navigating the 'road-craters' with great tact. “I have to travel at least 40km in a day and it had played havoc on my health. But now, I have to enter water-logged craters, unsure if I will drive through or get stuck. And all of this because the city roads have seen no maintenance. The authorities may come up with any hi-tech technology, but it won’t pay-off unless they carry out regular check-ups,” he notes.

Arun Prasad, an environmentalist and social activist, feels it is not the white-topping exactly which will help the city roads but quality management and better planning. “The Madivala underpass was taken as a trail for the white-topping and it is doing good. However, there are too many flaws in this. There are no drains on the side or tree-planting space. Without the drains on the side, the roads will naturally flood and roads will deteriorate. It is a cyclic thing,” he says.

He is convinced that even white-topping will not help the city roads unless the quality of material used is not properly checked. “The whole pothole issue is due to lack of quality in the tar used. There are several ways to make these tar roads more durable. The authorities cannot think that the public can be fooled by statements that ‘it is rain which is causing the damage.’”

Prasad ask the government: “Are you telling us that the quality of tar and other material you use is so low-grade that it cannot withstand showers? Also, they must rectify the drainage system. Rainwater must reach the ground and recharge the groundwater and not flood the roads.”
For Chandan Raj, potholes are an excuse for road-users to turn rash and increase the possibility of accidents. For him, white-topping the road is the right way forward. But he wants the civic authorities to focus on the by-lanes as well and not stop with the main roads. “As far as I know, the white-topping of roads happened in Chennai and it worked wonders,” he points out.

The potholes are such in the city that one either drives in a zigzag rash manner or is forced to enter the pot-holes. “It is a dangerous scene and white-topping is welcome to repair it. But not just on main roads, they must be laid even on the by-lanes. If the roads are not repaired in time, we may soon have to use ‘Bodysuit armour’ in place of helmets,” says Raj.

He also wants the focus on the drains. “Without repairing or unclogging the drains, the problem cannot be solved holistically,” he adds.

Niveditha R, an IT professional also feels the solution to the problem lies in solving the basic issue of road flooding and quality improvement. Her rationale: “The white-topping won’t be as useful and effective if the water-logging is not solved and if the basic quality of products used is not maintained. The state may spend crores of rupees, but the roads will remain the same if the potholes are not managed in time or if the maintenance is not given importance.”

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