The Calcutta Municipal Corporation (CMC), entrusted with the responsibility of maintaining the city’s thoroughfares and ensuring safe passage for vehicles, has rendered the roads more accident-prone instead. To cap it all, mayor Subrata Mukherjee has blamed his civil engineers for the poor workmanship that has resulted in more than 25,000 “death traps”, disguised as potholes, on the roads.
The “official potholes” are manhole points at intervals of 30 to 50 metres. Hence, a motorist has to negotiate at least 20 such potholes if he wants to cover a distance of a kilometre, down AJC Bose Road, CIT Road, Gariahat Road or Lenin Sarani. The task is uphill, as the manholes dent the roads haphazardly.
The uneven surfaces are also causing a lot of wear and tear on vehicles, preventing motorists from driving at more than 25 kph even on a road free of traffic jams. The worst part is that the potholes are almost invisible, lying about six inches below the road level.
“This is due to the lack of common sense and basic skill among engineers engaged in the maintenance of roads. I have pointed out the problem several times and the city police, too, had brought the issue to our notice,” said mayor Mukherjee.
According to the mayor, the manhole points had initially been aligned with the road level. Subsequently, after fresh track coats, the road level got raised, while the manhole points remained at the original level. Moreover, the coats were being applied indiscriminately on roads, as well as pavements, in some places, much below the road level.
“It would not have happened had the mayoral member looking after roads been a little more vigilant,” Mukherjee added.
Member, mayor-in-council (roads) Anup Chatterjee countered: “It is now a common practice in the CMC to disburse funds at the last moment and, as a result, the department’s engineers don’t get enough time to complete the job. Hence, quality suffers.”
According to engineers in the roads department, the civic authorities neither allot sufficient funds nor provide adequate time to carry out road repairs. “Fresh track coats and bitumen patches are the only maintenance work we do on roads,” said engineers of the department concerned.