How Shimla’s Mehli-Shoghi bypass cleared HP PWD’s Quality Control Test?
Shimla: Trinity Infrastructure –Tech is impaneled by the Himachal Pradesh Public Works Department (HP PWD) to set up Material Testing Lab, which conducts tests to monitor the quality of the material used in the construction of roads/infrastructure. The PWD has its own Quality Check and Design unit to monitor the work done by the contractors or the department.
The tests on the material used are conducted in the presence of PWD field staff that includes officials like Junior Engineer or Assistant Engineer. The quality control wing of PWD is supposed to conduct monthly inspections where the laboratory would provide them all documents with video and photographic evidences.
For roads, these tests include Bitumen penetration test, ductility test, viscosity, fire and flash point, Marshalls Stability test, stripping value etc. The reports are then forwarded further in the chain to the higher officials. There are sufficient checks to ensure a contractor can’t fool PWD about the quality of the material.
The only way to bypass all these measures for quality control is that PWD keeps its eyes closed. No need to explain why the department does so. Apparently, it is more beneficial to keep the eyes closed than displaying dedication towards the duty.
The Chief Minister Virbhadra Singh had himself admitted that PWD is most infected with the virus of corruption. Watch and hear yourself:
In papers, the HP PWD and the contractors follow all guidelines and fulfill all official and standard technical requirements. As a mission statement, PWD is committed to deliver the best quality public infrastructure. The reality is far uglier.
Take an example of the Mehli-Shoghi bypass road in Shimla.
The road was tarred during June-July in 2016. By the end of July, the road was in tatters. Himachal Watcher had published a story regarding the same with pictures showing the road in a horrible condition. The tarring did not last for even a month.
Very recently, two locals shared a couple of video clips recorded from the car while driving on the Mehli-Shogi bypass. On sunny days, clouds of dust reduced visibility to almost zero.
The first question that arises in the mind of a few aware citizens is as to how this road passed all the above-mentioned tests and gained the approval of the PWD when the quality was at its poorest.
This road is the proof of widespread corruption in the government machinery in nexus with private contractors. Otherwise, how could government approved of such as poor job?
said a commuter who often uses this road.
Secondly, the road was not attended by PWD and it became a hell for drivers by August 2017. PWD and the government did not show any concern towards facilitating transportation of apple during the ongoing season.
The Chief Minister keeps on making announcements, laying foundation stones, and inaugurating incomplete projects irrespective of what is delivered at the end,
said a local.
On rainy days, the road turns into a swamp. Besides being highly unsafe, it is a torture for drivers in both cases.
I had to stop using my bike. It is almost impossible to ride a two-wheeler on this road due to unbearable dust arising from the road,
said another local.
To road is a narrow one and to add to the risk, the entire road length lacks crash-barriers/parapets.
Being hilly region, the roadside safety and condition of roads are directly associated with accidents and fatality rate.
In papers, Himachal claims to be the first State in India where the Road Accident Data Management System has been implemented successfully for scientifically analysing the accident data. Remedial actions are being taken for reduction of accidents as well as fatalities, claims the government.
The Chief Minister counts construction of roads as one of his government’s achievements. He said 2, 500 kms length was added to existing roads during the last five years.
The state government is committed to provide road facility to ensure a speedy and all-round development of all areas of the State. During almost five years around 2500 kilometers of new roads and about 220 bridges have been constructed
, had said the Chief Minister on September 21, 2017, while addressing a public meeting at Dargi in Chalahal Gram Panchayat of Shimla Rural constituency.
In addition, the government had claimed in July this year that it had formed the Road Safety Policy on December 26, 2016. Moreover, the State Transport Development and Road Safety Council also exist and is headed by the Transport Minister.
Despite the existence of so many provisions and remedies, the roads are mostly in poor condition. Every time a major road accident kills tens of people, the government comes up with one or other announcement ensuring remedial action including betterment of roads. Sadly, most of it is confined to statistics in official papers.