OHILE While traveling in Maharashtra last year in January, I saw concrete roads being built around the Vidarbha region, especially in Nagpur, Bhandara and Gondia districts. I remember around 1999 when I was a student traveling to Mumbai I saw cement concrete being used in road construction. At first I couldn’t believe that construction workers used cement for road construction, but after viewing it myself on the famous Cadell Road, it made me believe that cement concrete could be used for laying roads. For more than 20 years a question always came to my mind as to why government of Jammu and Kashmir did not use cement concrete for road construction as traditional bitumen roads get damaged every year during winter snowfall with sub-zero temperatures?
PMGSY road to Budgam
Last year, a 9 ½ km stretch of road from Bonyar to Goggee Pathri via Bonen Kutbal in Surasyar block of Budgam district was constructed under the Pradhan Mantri Gramin Sadak Yojna (PMGSY). Locals told me it was a Rs 14 crore project. I could not verify this because PMGSY J&K does not have an official website and there are also no Detailed Project Reports (DPRs) of roads available on the respective district websites of J&K. I had already raised the issue with the Lieutenant Governor when I met with him on January 18 and the government subsequently set up a committee under the direction of the IT secretary to ensure the continuous updating of the websites. I had written a detailed article on this issue last week.
Residents of Bonyar, Bonen, Kutabal and other villages around Surasyar Budgam were shocked when they saw layers of bitumen spreading on this stretch of PMGSY road. The paving of a road surface occurred for the first time on this link road. After the work was completed, people enjoyed the ride on the causeway for several months. It was only a short-lived pleasure as the January snowfall damaged the road surface. The use of BullDozer (JCB) to plow the road further damaged it by creating cracks and fissures in the road surface. Had the government invested Rs 30 crore or more in this project, it would have ensured better sustainability of the road. With bitumen roads a lot of congestion occurs, while with cement concrete roads congestion management is much better. Asphalt roads have to be laid and repaired again and again almost every year after winter season or after monsoon season across India due to damages suffered during the season but cement concrete roads last more than 30 to 40 years old.
It has now become a trend to asphalt road surfaces without even scarifying the surface. This destroyed the roadscape in almost all areas of Srinagar and major cities. The perimeter walls around the residential houses on the main roads now look short and shabby, as continuous layers of bitumen have elevated most of the road surfaces. Scarifying involves breaking up hard or compacted materials to create enough space for the materials to settle. Simply placing bitumen filler material on a damaged road surface to fill ruts and potholes is a temporary fix. Asphalt material does not bind in ruts and potholes. This only increases the height of the road and makes the surrounding landscape shabby. The correct way to reshape the damaged road is to scarify the surface to the depth of the depressions. This breaks up any compacted surrounding surface materials. After scarification of the material, the Bitumen can deposit correctly. Cement concrete roads cannot be built unless the road surface is not scarified 2 to 3 feet deep. Thus, concrete roads have this advantage. At J&K, we can restore the lost glory of roads and the surrounding landscape if concrete road projects are undertaken. On a pilot basis, two sections have been constructed in Srinagar, from the Iqbal Park area to Rambagh Bridge and around the Pir Bagh area near the Police Headquarters. I would suggest that the government undertake more such projects in the next fiscal year.
Cement concrete roads have a long service life which can last between 35 and 40 years whereas bitumen compound roads last about 10 years in areas with no snowfall but in a place like Kashmir or Ladakh where the temperature drops to minus zero and there is heavy snowfall and the roads are damaged in just 2 to 3 years. During the service life, concrete roads do not require frequent repairs or patching works like macadamized roads. Vehicles driving on a concrete road consume 15-20% less fuel compared to asphalt-bitumen roads. This is due to the fact that a concrete road is not deflected under the wheels of loaded heavy trucks. When processing bitumen, many toxic gases are emitted from these plants, and the less fuel consumption of the vehicle running on a concrete road also results in low pollution. Bitumen is made from imported petroleum products which is the non-renewable energy source. If we constantly use these products, a day will come when these natural resources will be exhausted. On the contrary, concrete (cement) is produced from abundantly available limestone. Cement plants also lead to air pollution, but in comparison researchers say concrete is still better than bitumen.
HMA plant owners boarding
Based on the initial pavement cost, concrete roads would be approximately 15-16% more expensive than bituminous roads. However, based on life-cycle cost, cement concrete roads, due to their long life of 35-40 years and better durability, are estimated to be around 25-30% cheaper than concrete roads. asphalt roads. In the long run, cement concrete roads are actually more economical. To compensate the owners of hot power stations who have invested a lot in setting up these power stations at J&K, the government must involve them in the construction of cement concrete roads so that their economic interests are also safeguarded.
Gadkari on concrete roads
Union Road Transport and Highways Minister Nitin Gadkari said in 2017 that all roads in the country would be converted to cement concrete to ensure their stability and durability. At a ceremony, he had said that cement concrete roads built 20 years ago in Mumbai are still in good condition, but some political leaders, bureaucrats and entrepreneurs were against concrete roads. Gadkari said the cement concrete roads would last 200 years. The minister is speaking during the inauguration of ‘Prawaas 2017’—India International Bus and Car Travel Show in Mumbai on July 29, 2017. In fact, Gadkari has ensured the construction of concrete roads in nooks and crannies of Nagpur as he seems to be the biggest proponent of these routes.
This harsh winter has taught us many lessons. Most of our road surfaces are now in ruins. Even the paved roads last summer were damaged. There are huge water bottlenecks and potholes can be seen everywhere. Most parts of Srinagar city are messy due to bad roads. The government must start building cement concrete roads in J&K without wasting time so that taxpayers’ money is not wasted on asphalt roads every year.
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