BANGALORE: When will the chaos on Cunningham Road end? Not in the near future.
Half the road is a trench, turning the busy stretch into a nightmare for pedestrians.
The deadline for completion of the road improvement programme was December 2014, but contractors hope to finish the work only by March 2015.
The Tender Sure project that is being implemented here, at a cost of `18.42 crore, has run into many problems. One of them was completely unexpected: the diggers have found multiple power cables and sewer lines and can't make out which ones are dead, which ones functional.
Contractors NAPC Ltd say the depth of the sewer lines and a rock bed have made their work difficult.
Ganesh Kamath, Manager, NAPC Ltd, explains, "The sewer lines are at a depth of two metres. They have to be changed and new lines laid, which will take more time."
However, Shantha Kumar, the nodal officer from the BWSSB (Bangalore Water Supply and Sewerage Board), who is overseeing the project, says his men have been visiting the site regularly to assist the contractors.
"We have already given them all the necessary information, including the estimates for water and sanitary lines. New lines will be laid soon," he said.
'Apart from this, seven to eight live cables that are 30-40 years old have to be shifted.
"Due to legal complications and the model code of conduct, the works were delayed. Many officials were on election duty," Kamath said.
Ashok Kumar, nodal officer from Bescom (Bangalore Electric Supply Company), however, claims there is no delay.
"This is a very complicated exercise as there are lot of dead, defunct and live underground cables on this road. We are helping the contractors identify, shift and restore the cables," he told City Express.
Old and new cables have to be identified and shifted. Additional cables have to be laid, too.
Sometimes, during excavation, cables may be damaged, and they have to be repaired and power supply restored within two hours, he said.
The Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagar Palike (BBMP) says coordination with so many departments takes time.
"We have taken up only small roads initially and are facing problems only on Cunningham Road, as it is an old road. Not a single tree will be cut on these roads except for trimming of their roots," said Assistant Executive Engineer Satyanarayana. The contractors have been told not to block any traffic, and to ensure "100 per cent flow".
No tree cutting
Nitya Ramesh, Team Tender Sure head, is proud of the tree-friendly design. "We have taken great pains to ensure no trees are cut. At every point we have left a 1.5 m radius around trees so that the roots can breathe," she told City Express.
What is Tender Sure?
Indian roads are notorious for their chaotic traffic, potholes, jagged footpaths, overflowing drains, poorly placed power transformers, and their spaghetti tangle of electrical and telecom wiring.
Tender Sure (Specifications for Urban Roads Execution) is a public-private initiative that aims to get urban roads right.
Tender Sure road standards mandate the integration of services under the road: water, sewage, power, OFC (optic fibre cable), gas, and storm water drains.
The design also prioritises the comfort and safety of pedestrians and cyclists, and recognizes the needs of street vendors and hawkers.
The Karnataka government has allotted `200 crore for Tender Sure projects.
Forty-five Bangalore roads have been chosen for a radical redesign. Now, under Phase 1, work has begun on three.
The Jana Urban Space Foundation that is doing the design hopes engineers will not lower the specifications. In their words, "Tender Sure is all about spending once, but spending right!"
Once it is all done...
This is what the officials say you can expect:
• Uniform two-lane traffic, designated footpaths and cycle lanes, organised parking, utilities and vending areas, all of which will make Cunningham Road a pleasant experience to stroll by, window shop, sip coffee and go about one’s daily business.