Get ready for a rough ride this monsoon. It was decided a month ago at Pune Municipal Corporation’s (PMC) general body meeting that bearing in mind the city’s date with the monsoon on June 7, all road work be completed by May 25. Now, it emerges that with less than five days to the deadline, the civic body is still in the process of rolling out tenders for pre-monsoon road repair work. The civic administration has confirmed that 35 per cent of road repair work is yet to be done, which it optimistically feels is not a tall order. Contractors, however, are not so upbeat about achieving this impossible target in the next four days. There are 45 main roads in the city, of which over 15 need tending.
While this is PMC’s annual venture before monsoons, to rid the city of uneven surfaces and potholes this year, the road department started work a month ago, and yet, has been able to achieve only 65 per cent of the target. Interestingly, just five days before deadline, the standing committee on Tuesday approved almost Rs 3 crore for the road work, with plans on to propose another Rs 2 crore in the next meeting of the standing committee.
Said Vivek Kharvadkar, additional city engineer of the corporation (road department): “We are confident that we will achieve the remaining 35 per cent target. Another proposal is being drafted for the task.” On Tuesday, the standing committee approved of Rs 3 crore for road repair work at Kondwa, Wanowrie and Hadapsar. Standing committee chairman, Ashwini Kadam said, “While approving proposals, we have given instruction to complete work as soon as possible given that monsoon is just round the corner.” Last month, mayor Dattatraya Dhankawade set May 25, 2015, as deadline for completion of pre-monsoon road repair work, following which, a meeting was held with all officers regarding the task at hand.
The buzz on the shop floor, however, is contrary to the claims made by the babus. A contractor, who is a veteran on the job, underlined PMC’s delay in starting the tendering process. “It takes time to go through all the procedures before sanctioning a tender. Repair work is a time-consuming enterprise; and this year, we are likely to take more time to finish our work, as we have to repair the roads in patches. We have to move our machinery from one spot to the other which is tedious, as opposed to resurfacing an entire road.” Another contractor, who chose to speak on condition of anonymity, said, “What will add to the time lag is the fact that PMC has issued late approvals to mobile phone companies to lay down cables. They never stick to their deadlines, and this is likely to interfere with our work. Also, departments of drainage, water supply, etc, are known to issue orders for work completion at the same time. This absence of coordination between departments in the PMC creates confusion and adds to the volume of time.”
Rajesh More, a resident of Market Yard, encapsulated the civic body’s endeavour, saying: “This is the corporation’s routine lazy work. There is an utter lack of pre-monsoon preparedness. The work is never completed and year after year, it goes on through the period of monsoons. There are no lessons learnt from previous years.”
It’s also a season that brings to the fore many accidents due to bad roads. Dr Nitin Bhagali, president of the Pune Orthopaedic Association, said during this time, pothole-related injuries are known to go up by almost 40 per cent and those affected are mainly youngsters and the elderly who travel by two-wheelers and three-wheelers. “Patients suffer not only from minor sprains, jolt in the disc and slip disc, but also many major fractures as well, which often leads to lifelong disability,” said Bhagali.