Little more than a month after it was commissioned into service by the Chief Minister amid great fanfare, the Python 5000 pothole filling machine appears to have earned the ire of BBMP councillors. Cutting across party lines, different councillors said the machine, which was imported from Canada, was unsuitable for the city’s needs.
Srinagar Ward Councillor T Thimmegowda asked the BBMP Council to reconsider its approval for the machine, which was taken on lease from American Road Technology and Solutions Private Ltd (ARTS). JD (S) floor leader R Prakash questioned the need to spend `20 crore on the Python 5000 at a time when BBMP had allocated more than `500 crore to resurface city roads. Moreover, he alleged that the machine’s performance left much to be desired.
Councillor-turned-MLA Munirathna said a temperature of at least 140 degree Celsius was required to prepare the hot bitumen mix used to fill potholes, but the Python 5000’s capacity was much below this.
Former ruling party leader Nagaraju too alleged that the machine was sub-standard and demanded that BBMP stop using it. “When we do not have sufficient funds, why should we pay for asphalting of roads as well as filling of potholes? The machine does not have the capacity to fill potholes that are beyond a inch deep,” he questioned.
Opposition leader Manjunath Reddy said the vehicle to which the machine was fitted does not have RTO registration. “If the Palike encourages usage of a unregistered vehicle, we are sending out a wrong message,” he said.
BBMP superintendent engineer (Major Roads) K T Nagaraj said they had called for tenders to fill potholes on 365 arterial and sub-arterial roads, measuring up to 1,940 km. “Of the six packages that were approved, work order has been given to only one package in West zone. Under this, they have filled 1,600 potholes in 61 roads. We have not paid their bills,” he said. However, the councillors were not satisfied with his answer and demanded that Mayor B S Sathyanarayana cancel the tender given to ARTS.
BBMP Commissioner M Lakshminarayana said the work carried out with the machine would be inspected by a committee comprising chief engineers, executive engineers, independent experts and an engineer from Technical Vigilance Committee under Commissioner (TVCC). “The committee will give its report before the next Council meeting. If we are not satisfied with the work, we shall cancel the lease,” he said.