Times City, Chennai – 30-Jul-2012
As Civic Body Embarks On An Ambitious Project In Which Various Agencies Are Working Together For The First Time To Lay Roads,TOI Scrutinises The 330Cr Scheme That May Turn 360 Roads Into Model Stretches Of Future
Close to a year after Chennai Corporation expanded by 300sqkm,a project being undertaken as part of the Mega City Development Mission may well make roads of the erstwhile suburbs the envy of city central.If the civic bodies play their part,360 roads will be laid with a scientific plan and could become reference points for roads in the heart of the city.Here is how the roads in eight zones will be laid in the 330 crore project: All the crucial necessities of a road such as storm water drains,electric boxes,pavements,street lights,laying the bitumen and installing name boards are being entrusted to a single contractor,who will be responsible for both the work on an entire stretch and its maintenance for five years.We wanted to include all the facilities a road needs to have at one go, said a senior corporation official.Since it is not easy for five contractors to work together,we carved the work into big packages and gave one stretch each to the contractors. The aim is to avoid constant digging of roads throughout the year by different agencies,which leaves the roads damaged most of the time.We usually float storm water drain tenders soon after we lay roads.Metrowater or the electricity board then make road cut requests, the official said.New roads in the extended areas will have covered ducts under the road,through which all the water pipes and electric cables will run,so repairs in the future will not require the road to be dug up.Since one firm will construct an entire stretch of road,the corporation expects that it will include design aspects for seamless integration of infrastructure utilities by different civic utilities.The companies with the contracts will,for example,have to build pavements in such a way that electric inspection boxes and streetlights do not block the path of pedestrians, a corporation official said.
While the plan should let you drive on a dream road soon,contractors seem to be facing a few teething problems.The project was sanctioned in April,with a condition that the road work should be completed by September,which is when monsoons in the city begin.Civic body officials admit this deadline is practically impossible.Of the 33 packages,work orders for nearly 30 packages have been approved and issued,said a senior source in the corporation.But a few of them were issued as late as the second week of July.
Every tender had to be placed before the council after it has been bid for in the same month,and then work orders had to be issued.All this took time, said a corporation official.Corporation commissioner D Karthikeyan admitted that finding contractors for the project was difficult.Most of them began work only by the end of May, he said.
It took the civic body more than three months to find contractors to bid for Thiruvottiyur.Civic body officials understand why contractors are hesitant to take up projects in localities in the north of the city (see graphic).North Chennai is congested;the roads chosen are very narrow.The carriageway has encroachments which make road-laying difficult, said the official.
Contractors who took up works in other parts of the city have begun work on only some of the roads though works were sanctioned in April.Even on the roads where works have started,we could finish only 35% of the work, said Shiva of TMS Constructions,one of the contractors.According to a recent status report,Alandur and Sholinganallur are likely to get their arterial roads re-laid at the earliest.
In Sholinganallur, works have been completed on seven roads because they did not require storm water drains. Storm water drain construction takes at least a month.We dig trenches and lay precast segments. Once drains are done,50% of the work is considered done, another contractor said.
As the first systematic attempt to lay quality roads in the city progresses, TOI will be keeping close track of the project.
The Mega City Development Mission is an excellent opportunity to transform the face of infrastructure in the suburbs of Greater Chennai.City administrators would naturally regard it as the first such initiative to lay good roads and drains crisscrossing fast-developing areas on the periphery of the old city.The challenge now lies in extensive supervision and monitoring of works allocated to the contractors.Faced with stiff deadlines and tight budgets,some of them may cut corners and do a slapdash job.Although the contract requires them to carry out maintenance for five years,there is a possibility that the quality of work may be uneven across zones.Hence,it will be necessary for officers and engineers in every ward to undertake extensive field visits to ensure that contractors follow the standards laid down and also provide them with the support they need.