Reconstruction of concrete roads at a standstill after GOK’s probe
By Arghyadeep Dutta
The reconstruction of the 1.8-kilometre long Subedhar Chatram Road has been halted by the Government of Karnataka following multiple complaints about the misuse of funds in Phase 1 and Phase 2 of the white-topping project.
This has caused congestion on this road that connects Anand Rao Circle to Gubbi Thotadappa Road. Previously a black asphalt road, this road was being white-topped by the Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike (BBMP); however, the probe against the white-topping project by Chief Minister B.S. Yeddyurappa has brought the reconstruction to a standstill.
White-topping is a process where an existing asphalt road is given a concrete topping over it to increase its lifespan and to prevent further formation of potholes.
“Earlier this road was the easiest way to commute from Anand Rao Circle to Majestic, and it would take around three minutes in a car. However, now it takes around 15 minutes to travel from one end to another, dodging the congestion,” said Naseer Ahmed, an auto driver.
The tender for white-topping the road from Anand Rao Circle to SC Road was released on January 18, 2014, after the Siddaramaiah Government released a fund of Rs. 225.50 lakh on November 25, 2013. After the first call of the tender, this project was included in the white-topping road project Phase 1.
The one-way connector is half-way constructed at present. The road has been white-topped from the left to the middle and the other half is still asphalt road whose upper asphalt layer has already been scraped off.
The white-topped concrete road is around 10 cm higher than the asphalt road, so the vehicles cannot take that path and it’s often used for parking cars.
“The reconstruction of the road had started 1.5- years back, in early 2018. However, it has been nearly six months since the construction stopped. Cement dust and sand from the construction site are creating air pollution in the area and there is traffic congestion because the half side of the road is blocked,” said Manu Kumar Tiwari, a store owner on SC Road.
TCM Royan Road, another street one kilometre from Anand Rao Circle, connecting Cottonpete to Majestic, is blocked due to the reconstruction. No cars can enter the road from Majestic, and a concrete heap lying next to the road.
Between 2013 to 2018, Siddaramaiah Government issued tenders of Rs. 2000 crore for three phases of white-topping road reconstruction. Among the three phases, the work of the first two phases had begun. On April 11, 2019, Karnataka High Court issued a notice to the BBMP based on a public interest litigation (PIL) filed by A.C. Chandrashekar Raju, seeking direction to stop the work of ‘unscientific’ white-topping. Following the notice, Chief Minister B.S. Yeddyurappa ordered a probe on white-topping roads. The white-topping roads come under Tender SURE (Specification for Urban Roads Execution) project by Jana Urban Space Foundation and it aims to have better, longer-lasting roads with utilities going underground.
In the first phase, 22 km of the 35-km-long road has been reconstructed.
Mr. Chandrashekhar, Executive Engineer, BBMP, said, “We will restart the work after we get the permission. It will take two more months to complete the construction after getting permission from higher authority and traffic department.”
“The commuters should avoid the roads being reconstructed, for now. The traffic police reroute the traffic to minimise inconveniences on the roads. There are both, advantages and disadvantages of concrete roads, but since there is a probe going on white-topping roads in Bengaluru, it is hard to say that what the future of these roads will be,” said Anil Bhaskaran, an urban planner.