The damaged portion of Tata-Kandra Road in Adityapur on Friday. Picture by Animesh Sengupta
Sample the height of civic callousness.
A 15km artery — widened for approximately Rs 185 crore and unofficially thrown open barely two years ago — is being dug up every now and then to fix leaks in a half-a-century-old water pipeline whose blueprint is long lost. A new pipeline laid alongside to ensure uninterrupted supply has made little difference because it is guilty of inordinate delay and gave households little time to switch over before the road was revamped.
Wednesday was the last time the four-lane Tata-Kandra carriageway was maimed again, resulting in a bottleneck that held up traffic for almost the entire day.
Officials of Jharkhand Accelerated Road Development Company Limited (JARDCL) — the special purpose vehicle formed for the multi-crore artery project that is waiting for completion of service lanes to be launched officially as a toll road — said they had to dig up a chunk near Akashvani Bhavan in Adityapur.
According to JARDCL senior manager Vinod Tripathy, the drinking water and sanitation department’s Adityapur division has no records or drawings of the old pipeline, believed to be laid way back in 1965.
“So, when a leak is reported, we do not know its exact location. First, we burrowed into a portion of the service lane, detected the leak and then, pounded the main carriageway,” Tripathy said, adding that the drinking water division had reports of more leaks and they might have to dig up another portion of the four-lane soon.
So far, the widened road and its service lanes have been battered four times already.
Squarely blaming administrative negligence for the mess, the JARDCL senior manager said the road construction department had disbursed required funds to drinking water and sanitation for the new pipeline much before the Tata-Kandra project began in 2011.
“But, the department kept delaying work and, finally, laid the new pipeline only after the project was halfway. Had the old pipeline been replaced with the new one in time, this problem would not have recurred,” Tripathy said.
On why the JARDCL hadn’t levelled the road, which hosts 100,000 vehicles daily, after the pipe leak was fixed on Wednesday, the senior manager declined to comment. “Like roads, water supply is also an essential public service; the department should be more serious in its work,” he said.
Executive engineer Mohammed Nazrul Imam conceded that they have had to often ask JARDCL for break a portion of the newly built road to mend pipe leaks. “Unfortunately, several households in Adityapur still depend on the old pipeline for water. We have to act if complaints of supply problems crop up,” he said.
Imam claimed that the department had asked the Adityapur Municipal Council, which looks after water supply in areas under its jurisdiction, to draw up a list of households linked to the old pipeline. “Once the list is ready, we will alter connections and link taps to new pipeline,” he added.