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Since 1st March, 1999
 
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Plastic option to bolster roads

Plastic nuisance today might be a boon for road construction tomorrow.

The Calcutta Metropolitan Planning Committee (CMCP) has advised civic authorities to get in touch with Bangalore University and Central Road Research Institute regarding laying of polymer-blend bituminous roads in the city.

Mayor Subrata Mukherjee has recently taken up a Rs 25-crore project to convert bituminous city thoroughfares to mastic-asphalt coated roads.

'It has been found that bitumen blended with polymer made out of discarded plastic bottles, carry bags and thin film-grade plastic can offer a better, tougher and more water-resistant road surface. That, too, at a cheaper cost than mastic asphalt,' said mayoral council member (roads) Anup Chatterjee.

Chairman of the CMCP's sector committee on environment, wetlands, urban amenities and heritage Amiya Das said the Bangalore municipal corporation, with the help of Bangalore University's Centre for Transportation Engineering, has already laid 35 km of roads with the newly-developed compound.

The strength and durability of the roads, built with polymer-blended bitumen from the Central Road Research Institute, had been found satisfactory, he added.

'Water is the main enemy of bituminous roads. The durability of the topcoat bitumen reduces by 90 per cent in case of waterlogging. Since waterlogging is a chronic problem in the city, we must think of an alternative that can withstand water,' said the mayor.

He added that the two available options of making durable roads are using mastic asphalt topcoat and concretising the roads.

Concretising all the roads will require an investment of over Rs 2,000 crore, which is beyond the capacity of the civic body.

Replacing the bituminous topcoat with mastic asphalt, too, will cost at least four times more than topcoating with bitumen.

Using polymer-blended bitumen is expected to bring down the cost considerably.

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