What Would It Take To Make Indian Roads Pothole Free?
New Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath has pledged to make state roads pothole-free by June 15, 2017.
However, it is not only UP where roads need mending; roads across Indian cities, are in a poor condition and need serious repair works. The government, under its Smart Cities Mission, is focused on developing smart roads that will involve the use of technology and superior quality construction materials.
Present scenario and challenges faced
India has a total of about two million kilometres of roads that include 9,60,000 kilometres of surfaced roads. Nearly one million kilometres of roads are poorly constructed. The country also has 53 National Highways that carry nearly 40 per cent of the total road traffic. The common problems that are plaguing Indian roads, encompass insufficient pavement thickness, poorly concrete speed breakers, faulty drainage system and bad riding quality caused by potholes. They have caused nearly 10,000 deaths in the last three years. Lack of maintenance funds, movement of overloaded vehicles like trucks and heavy rains, leading to road damages which ultimately trigger traffic jams and road accidents. Restoration work for potholed roads, which is undertaken by the government each year, cost to the tune of crores. The plight of rural areas is more of a concern, where there is non-availability of all-weather roads and monsoons only add to the difficulty of navigating these roads.
Possible solutions: Lessons to learn
- The developed countries of the world follow stringent quality control and build good durable roads that remain undamaged even in adverse weather conditions. India still depends on water-trapping bituminous mixes for construction that result in quick dilapidation of the road surfaces. Plastic roads which are built using polymer modified bitumen increase the longevity of roads and prove to be an environment-friendly solution as well. Roads of this kind can bear extreme weather conditions.
- Road Transport and Highways Minister, Nitin Gadkari expressed the government's commitment to enhancing road infrastructure in the country through a multi-pronged strategy that will entail effective road engineering solutions at the design stage, rectification of accident black spots, improved automobile engineering, driver education as well as effective enforcement of laws.
- For the development of smart roads, efficient construction methods will be adopted. This will include re-engineered steel material for structures on the roads like walkways, overhead bridges, pillars and poles, etc. Improved cement products and by-products will be used for the pavements.
- Vehicle ownership is rising at an alarming rate in India and streamlining the traffic, calls for construction of additional expressways of about 15,000 kilometres in the next ten years.
- Experts and road engineers suggest that one practical solution is to construct roads in a way that they slope towards the edges, to prevent water-stagnation. Service ducts with vents must be provided at regular intervals, so that roads need not be dug up for various purposes.
- The Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike recently declared that 94 kilometres of roads will be re-laid with concrete, costing Rs 789.41 crores, that will last up to 30 years. White topping will be carried out to augment the road carrying capacity of the pavements.
- A company in Gujarat has launched a novel road repair machine using Jetpatcher Technology or a customised cold-mix patching system that can fix roads in few minutes.
- Housing Infrastructure Development Corporation (HIDCO) in Kolkata, will introduce a mobile application -'Know Your Road' (KYR), developed by the German company Bosch, for monitoring the road condition, traffic speed and volume on New Town stretches. Based on the feedback of KYR, the authorities will take up repair works on affected spots.