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Tuesday, August 26, 2008


Publication: Times Of India Delhi; Date: Aug 20, 2008; Section: Front Page; Page: 1

Citizens find out why roads are crumbling. It’s corruption

Radhika Oberoi | TNN

New Delhi: If potholes, cracks and sudden depressions on the road seem to be part of your everyday commute in the city, it’s time to shake off the apathy and ask MCD a few awkward questions. Like Mohit Goel, a resident of Model Town did when the recent patchwork repair undertaken by MCD began to disintegrate.

Or as did S P Gupta, general secretary, Residents Welfare Association, Old Rajinder Nagar, when he found that the road in front of Salwan School had broken down despite it being converted from ‘‘dense carpet’’ to ‘‘cement concrete’’ — a kind of road that simply should not crumble.

Both Mohit Goel and S P Gupta took recourse to RTI. They wanted to know who was responsible for the shoddy work. Not just that, both obtained permission to take a sample of the road and get it examined by the Shriram Institute for Industrial Research.

The results were not entirely unexpected. In both cases the contractors had used less cement than required. The road in front of Salwan School, for instance, used only half the required quantity; gravel and sand were added in much higher proportion. As for the Model Town road, the proportions were all wrong.

Needless to say, the contractors had made a killing by using inferior materials. But what about the MCD officials who were supposed to supervise the work? They winked at it, raising suspicions of collusion. As it happens, in the Salwan School road case, the RWA has filed an FIR against MCD.

If roads are being reduced to rubble in the city, the heavy downpour might be a part of the reason. But the real reason possibly is one of the worst kept secrets of the city — there is rampant corruption in road construction. But it’s not something that the authorities are ready to accept, even though Goel and Gupta have virtually proved it.

Coming back to Goel, he sought answers this April, under RTI, on the road in front of his house in Model Town. He asked for an inspection of the area under the supervision of an engineer, a measurement book (with road dimensions), as well as samples of road material in the vicinity of his home, for a ratio analysis test.

As a result of his query, he found out that the total estimated cost of building the 96.50 metre x 5.13 metre stretch was Rs 6 lakh. Model Town roads repaired but who takes blame?

New Delhi: Three samples of road material at Model Town in front of Mohit Goel’s house were collected for a ratio analysis of cement, Badarpur (sand or stone dust) and aggregate (rodi).

The ratio should have been 1:2:4 of cement, Badarpur and rodi. The analysis showed the ratio was 1:3.5:7.5. In other words, while cement should have been one-seventh of the mix, in this case it was only one-twelfth. ‘‘I took it up with MCD,’’ says Mohit,‘‘and they have started repair work not only outside my house, but on some other roads in Model Town as well.’’ But have they got after the contractor or the engineer who cleared the job? Mohit doesn’t know.

While Mohit is a young and idealistic 30-year-old, S P Gupta and his friends in the Old Rajinder Nagar RWA are an elderly lot. Still, they refused to be cynical about corruption. ‘‘The material was of a very poor quality and so was the workmanship,’’ recalls Gupta.

The RWA approached the Public Grievances Commission in June 2004. Subsequently, MCD was ordered to provide the RWA with samples of the material used to resurface the road. The material, tested at the Shriram Institute for Industrial Research was in the ratio 1:1.5:7 (as against the prescribed 1:2:4).

MCD too got the material tested at the Regional Testing Centre (northern region), the analysis showed up a ratio of 1:1.8:5.1. In a report submitted by Sunil Tyagi, MCD executive engineer, quality control, it was mentioned that the component brick aggregate was not found.

‘‘Although the road now looks OK, we’ve filed an FIR to investigate the lies,’’ says a determined Gupta. ‘‘We’ve been told investigations are on,’’ he continues. However, not willing to let the issue die down without bringing someone to book, he advises others to do the same: ‘‘Ask why; you have every right to.’’

Yes, you do.


Bodies like Shri Ram Institute for Industrial Research or Central Road Research Institute carry out road sampling to ascertain the road quality. One can approach these institutes with a written application.

In the application, specify whether the road is public or private. In case of a public road, permission has to be taken from the concerned civic agency.

In the request letter, the applicant should specify whether the road is constructed with concrete or bituminous. Applicant should also mention the parameters on which the quality of road has to be checked. Usual parameters are strength, thickness and density.

After receiving the application, the institute sends a team of engineers to the site. The team cuts a core, or in other words, take a sample from the road. The sample is then taken to the laboratory of the institute where tests are conducted.

While the complete road sampling can cost anything between Rs 6,000 to Rs 7,000, checking just the binder content of the road costs around Rs 1,200. Extensive tests to ascertain density or thickness of road cost approximately Rs 600 each.

Mohit Goel of Model Town was incensed when he found a new road in front of his house crumbling within months. He too got the road tested and discovered that jus half the cement required had been used. MCD is now rebuilding the road. But who is responsible for the shoddy work?

S P Gupta was angry when a concrete road in front of Salwan School began to disintegrate. He got it tested. The result: less cement and more sand had been used to make the road. His RWA has now filed an FIR against MCD

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