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Wet spell holds up recarpeting of roads

By J.S. Ifthekhar

HYDERABAD, SEPT. 7. Looking forward a smooth ride on the City roads? Forget the idea, as it may not be possible in the near future.

Though the MCH announced that it would take up recarpeting of roads from September 15, it is now clear that the statement has to be taken with a pinch of salt.

But if you want the roads to become motorable soon then pray for the monsoon to stop.

Anxious wait

Authorities at the Corporation wouldn't say it in so many words, but they are waiting eagerly for the present `wet spell' to end.

Under flak from all quarters, the civic body has drawn up an elaborate plan to take up road repair in a big way but the intermittent rain is said to be proving a dampener.

"We are sensitive to criticism and ready with a plan of action. But recarpeting now will only mean money down the drain. We will be charged with being irresponsible," says a senior official.

Damned if it does, and damned if it doesn't. That's what the Corporation wants one to believe. But a look at the weather chart will show that there has not been a wet spell since the beginning of this month or the days preceding it. The prolonged dry spell was broken on Saturday when the City recorded 83.3 mm of rain and on Monday there was light drizzle adding up to 3.4 mm of rain.

The City experienced a number of sunny days when the MCH could have carried out the road repair work.

High expectations

In fact the continued dry spell has been a source of worry to the Water Board. Pride of the City not long ago, the State Capital now offers an apology for roads. Battered and washed out, most of them stick out like sore thumbs. The present condition is the result of incessant digging. People expect water pipelines, cables and other such amenities to reach their doorsteps and yet do not want the roads to be dug up.

"If you want development you have to pay a price for it," officials argue.

Senior officials are surprised at the hue and cry being raised over the quality of roads and say the roads were never laid on a regular basis in the past. It is only during the last four years that the Corporation took up road laying in a big way. The entire budget of MCH was just Rs. 30 crore in the 90s and now the Corporation has allocated Rs. 60 crore for general works - a major part of which includes repair and maintenance of roads.

Potholes' repair

So when will the Municipal Corporation take up the recarpeting of roads?

"As soon as it becomes technically feasible," says the MCH commissioner, Chitra Ramchandran. Nowhere in the country roads are laid during September, she points out. However, she hastens to add that depending on the urgency the MCH is undertaking repair of potholes. Of the 1,368 potholes identified, 1,158 were already restored.

On paper the MCH has drawn a detailed plan to re-lay 78 km length of roads at a cost of Rs. 15 crores. But it remains to be seen when it will be put into action.

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