FIX THE POT­HOLES IN THE SYS­TEM

The New Indian Express - - EDITORIAL -

The in­nu­mer­ous pot­holes on Bengaluru’s roads are as much about the sorry state of af­fairs in civic ad­min­is­tra­tion as they are about the heav­ier-than-usual rain­fall that the city re­ceived this sea­son. The bat­ter­ing has been so se­vere that there’s prob­a­bly no road in the city with­out the vis­i­ble symp­toms of rain dam­age. The gap­ing pot­holes, some big enough to swal­low peo­ple and small ve­hi­cles, ex­pose bad plan­ning, and, more se­ri­ously, the bla­tant cor­rup­tion in ex­e­cu­tion of civic works.

The city cor­po­ra­tion, the BBMP, has es­ti­mated that about 250 ma­jor roads have suf­fered dam­age, but in re­al­ity, the de­struc­tion seems much more ex­ten­sive. En­tire stretches have been ru­ined in cer­tain ar­eas, with even high­ways bear­ing tes­ti­mony to the poor qual­ity of con­struc­tion and up­keep. Af­ter a cam­paign in The New In­dian Ex­press, the BBMP com­mis­sioner has promised to fix the roads in 10 days. Ex­perts say a prop­erly laid road should last at least three years, and if qual­ity ma­te­ri­als are used, it should not need ma­jor re­pairs for up to five years.

But roads in Bengaluru don’t seem ca­pa­ble of weath­er­ing even a sin­gle spell of rain. One, the road con­trac­tors nei­ther use qual­ity ma­te­ri­als nor fol­low proper guide­lines. Two, of­fi­cials whose job it is to en­sure qual­ity not only fail to do their job but also al­low ir­reg­u­lar­i­ties in col­lu­sion with greedy con­trac­tors and politi­cians. Three, poor main­te­nance of drains and their en­croach­ment leads to flood­ing even dur­ing short spells of rain—wa­ter stag­na­tion is the main cause of road dam­age. Then there are other is­sues like fre­quent dig­ging of roads, un­sci­en­tific re­pairs and civic agen­cies’ pref­er­ence for quick-fixes than long-term so­lu­tions. The bad roads in Bengaluru tell what pri­mar­ily ails our civic man­age­ment: lack of ac­count­abil­ity. It’s time con­trac­tors, of­fi­cials and their po­lit­i­cal masters are held re­spon­si­ble and made to pay for their fail­ures. Fix­ing pot­holes is a short-term so­lu­tion, it’s the sys­tem that needs to be fixed for a last­ing ef­fect.

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