Residents fume over bumpy ride as municipality asks to ‘stop worrying about potholes’

Last week, out of the blue, the Chandigarh civic body took to Twitter to urge motorists to ‘stop worrying about potholes on the road and enjoy the journey’. This sparked a lot of outrage among netizens who pointed to the growing number of potholes in the city that make driving bumpy.

Potholes are no laughing matter, according to government data, as they claimed the lives of 2,300 people from 2016 to 2020. The beautiful city, once known for its silky smooth roads, is now becoming notorious for those who wear out too soon, leaving traces. everywhere.

Associate Professor Ajay Duggal from the Department of Civil Engineering, National Institute of Technical Teacher Training and Research (NITTTR), told the Indian Express that “lack of timely repair and maintenance” has led on this condition.

Bad road condition at Phase 1 Chandigarh Industrial Zone. (Express photo by Kamleshwar Singh)

“Preventive maintenance is the key to smoothing the roads. If we have a four-year maintenance window with a 48-hour pothole repair clause, things can get better. In our city, both wings, either the administration or the Municipal Corporation (MC), buy a good amount of ready-made patch material. But the problem comes when you don’t do a regular and timely inspection,” Prof Duggal said.

Prof Duggal pointed to the cut off road opposite the homeopathic college which has not been repaired even after 40 days. “The parking lot at the back of sector 26 towards the mandi side remains unrepaired, although I have complained to both the engineer and the contractor involved. The same is in front of the sector police station 26. The fact is that no one performs periodic inspection. A small defect, if not taken care of, becomes a pothole. Timely inspection and rectification within 48 hours can prevent the road from getting bumpy,” he added.

Stressing the importance of holding civil servants accountable for shoddy work and lack of maintenance, Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) councilor Yogesh Dhingra, who is also the leader of the opposition, said he had wrote to the mayor to tell him that they had to fix the liability of civil servants for various services. they provide to people. “However, the mayor declined to take up this agenda at the MC House meeting,” Dhingra said.

Poor road conditions in sector 52 of Chandigarh. (Express photo by Jasbir Malhi)

Dhingra said they were told that all road repairs would be completed by June 30, but that continues to languish. “The work then stopped because of the monsoons. Residents are being harassed every day due to deteriorating road conditions in Chandigarh,” he added.

Pockmarked roads

The condition of the road between sectors 51 and 52 is deplorable, as every day commuters have to go through difficult times and difficult times as well. Similarly, a large pothole near PGI towards the main road has given commuters a hard time, especially patients traveling to PGI. However, no one even bothered to fill the pothole, as is the case with the roads in the industrial area.

The same goes for the roads of Kishangarh where locals told The Indian Express that they would give a cash reward of Rs 2,100 to any civic body official who spends two days traveling on the roads of Kishangarh .

Poor road conditions in Sector 51 of Chandigarh. (Express photo by Jasbir Malhi)

Kishangarh resident Manoj Lubana said it has become difficult for commuters to navigate the roads and this often leads to falls and injuries. “People started developing spinal disc problems, especially older people, after traveling on these roads. The condition of these roads has remained the same for the past three years. Most residents park their two-wheelers outside the area near a community center and walk to their homes as we have no roads,” Lubana said.

He added, “Many school buses don’t even come to our area to drop off or pick up kids. They’re just waiting outside.”

Potholes also pose a threat to pregnant women, for fear of a possible accident. “Isn’t it inhumane for pregnant women? They have to undergo routine examinations and are afraid to travel on these roads. What type of facility do civil servants grant to citizens? It’s criminal, I would say, to leave potholes unattended,” said Rinku, another resident. “Do the officials not realize the perils we have to go through? These officials appreciate shiny roads, but that is not the true picture of Chandigarh,” Rinku added.

SS Kaushal, a retired director of the education department, said he had to use a cane as an aid for fear of falling on rutted roads.

Bad road condition near PGIMER Chandigarh. (Express photo by Kamleshwar Singh)

“The V6 sector 22 lane behind the community center has developed several potholes, making it difficult for commuters and pedestrians to circulate on the section. I have to use a cane as an aid to avoid the risk of falling during my morning walk,” Kaushal said.

Another resident of Sector 45, Ashok Sharma, said, “The condition of the roads in Sector 45, especially around the circular road of the Burail market, is really bad. It has been under construction for months and sees hundreds of vehicles passing by every day, which adds to the congestion.

Councilor Sachin Galav had raised this point during the recent MC meeting. However, he was told that the bidding process was ongoing. “I had engineers fix these potholes, and for months they told me the bidding process was going on,” Galav said.

Residents of Raipur Khurd have posted pictures saying it is a daily struggle and with the rains the potholes are filled with melting snow making the area dangerous especially at night.

Vinod Vashisht, Convener City Forum of Residents Welfare Associations, said: “There is an ‘I am Chandigarh’ mobile app run by the MC and Smart City Limited which residents should use to file complaints about civic issues. Authorities should work to make this app more efficient by improving real-time issues, resolution tracking, and the escalation channel.”

No fixing of liability

The least a citizen of Chandigarh can expect from the authorities is that they fix the liability of officials in whose jurisdiction there are bad roads. “If a single senior officer orders the roads to be repaired in two months and then inspects said roads, that would be enough because people would not suffer. Unfortunately, no senior officer has ever done so. Do they even realize the harm they are doing to people and their vehicles? RK Garg, a resident of Sector 27 and president of the Second Innings Association, said.

He added, “Also, when a road is resurfaced, why can’t we post the contractor’s and engineer’s phone number on a board? Liability must be fixed. A lawsuit must be filed against the offending official and contractor if the road gives way and a life is lost,” he added.

The administrator will hire an agency to fix the potholes

MC’s Chief Engineer, NP Sharma, in an interview with The Indian Express, said, “This time we will hire an agency that will fill and repair the potholes with machinery. We used to buy bitumen and other materials and then get a roll. It took time. With this new mechanism, the machine would have the material and the roller, which will first clear and clean the pothole and continue to fill it. This is practiced in Delhi and we are bringing it to Chandigarh”.

He added: “The agency will mark the repaired pothole and geolocate it, so we know the entire area of ​​the neighborhood has been cleared of potholes.”

Melissa C. Keyes