The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Potholes to have run of the Puja roads

Fasten that seat belt, the roads this Pujas promise to stay bumpy.

The civic authorities had allotted Rs 15 crore to repair the roads and pavements. But neither the amount nor the time left before the festival is adequate, warn engineers of the roads departmemt.

However, the mood is still upbeat among the top bosses at the civic headquarters. Mayor Subrata Mukherjee has promised funds would “not be a problem”. Spurred on by this benevolent assurance, member, mayor-in-council, roads, Anup Chatterjee is clinging to his announcement of applying the tar on 250 km of roads. All he asks for is some help from the elements — 15 sunny days. For chief engineer, civil, D.N. Rakshit, the promised pre-Puja target is 24.4 lakh square metres of pavements.

If the bosses are busy setting targets, the rank and file is growing increasingly sceptical. According to engineers in the roads department, the condition is worse than usual this year since no maintenance work could be undertaken over the last six months because of a ceasework by the civic contractors. The laying of optical fibre cables by a private company and construction of flyovers at Gariahat and AJC Bose Road have doubled the damage.

The civil engineering department estimates that there are 1,650 km of roads and 2,000 km of pavements that require immediate attention. According to Rakshit, proper repair of pavements will cost Rs 119 per sq m. Engineers say the refurbishment of 24.4 lakh sq m of pavements would call for an expenditure of Rs 47 crore, at Rs 193 per square metre, which is impossible for the CMC to cough up.

The calculation, however, did not take into account the fact that the hot-mix plants do not run on cloudy days and repairs cannot be undertaken on wet roads. Hence, with three weeks to go, points out an engineer, Pujas 2002 will be potholed, “whatever the bosses promise”.

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