Road repairs, rain and Mysore City Corporation

Need to launch special purpose vehicle to solve problems haunting heritage city

Vehicles have to tread cautiously; two-wheelers are the worst hit. Citizens patience is running out. Mayor has pleaded with the citizens to bear with the inconveniences and in the same breath  has passed remarks about the complacency and apathy of the executing authorities in keeping the roads in good stead. If we look at the genesis of this problem, we find that the reasons adduced are - prolonged rains resulting in delay in survey of bad roads by authorities,  finalisation of packages to be taken up for asphalting/repairs, black topping etc.,   tendering process, issue of work orders, contractors quoting low and uneconomical rates for bagging orders,  trading or out sourcing their works to third parties for a profit, etc., and defaulting/rescinding the contract and disappearing to avoid penal action,  Added to this ‘Chakravyooha’ is the problem of un-seasonal and unusually heavy rains or inclement weather due to climate change etc.  Can these delays be avoided? 

There is a school of thought that the system of awarding contracts for asphalting/black topping/repairs etc., is timed with the rainy season so that the roads get washed away during rains and public money has to be spent again to effect interim repairs before the annual repairs come again. It looks like a vicious circle. Adopting technology for cold asphalting (a misnomer) is not an anathema for this perennial problem of end users.    All these problems and citizens complaints can be reduced if the entire process/system of calling for tenders etc.,  can be revised.    Following suggestions may be considered for adoption: Instead of the present system of calling for tenders etc., in June-July every year, revamp the schedule

*        July - Start the process of identification of roads that need to be maintained and classify them into ABC category – prescribe strict time schedules for concerned officials and elected representatives to submit their recommendations;
*        August – complete the task of verification,  finalise packages with equitable distribution of works and on a pro-rata basis of population;
*        September - draw up draft tender documents;  float tenders, initiate and finalise the process of negotiations and number of packages;
*        October – Issue work orders to successful bidders and ensure that they are fully equipped with necessary machineries/equipment /implements/ materials by the time the rains end and there will be enough solar light for drying up the rain soaked roads;
*        November/December/ January – Ensure that works are completed in strict compliance with terms and conditions of award of contract as per tendered rates;
*        Watch out for time/cost over-runs and reasons therefore, initiate immediate action either to issue notice for delay in completion of works by contractors or to rescind the contract and /or appropriate the earnest money deposits and initiate penal clauses for recovery of expenditure incurred in connection with re-tendering/ cost of over-run, etc.   
*        February – undertake inspection of works, conduct quality control checks, obtain actual measurements, audit, finalise bills and make payments;
*        March -  Before 31st each year conduct a brain storming session with officials, contractors and NGOs about the causes for non-completion of works, initiate short re-tendering, complete the works and after due diligence, make payments of bills;
*       A special purpose vehicle may be created during Dussera for attending to works connected with urgent repairs/beautification to the Raja Marga.

This suggested revised schedule may solve problems that are being faced by authorities and inconveniences to road users can be avoided.  If this exercise is undertaken, public money being spent ‘will not go down the drain’; Funds will be utilised for the purpose for which they were sanctioned; no surrender of un-utilised grant under various works; scams pertaining to year-end withdrawal of funds and depositing them in private banks in violation of financial rules and regulations and earning audit comments thereof may be avoided.

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