A proposal by the Public Works Department (PWD), for laying roads in the state with Rubber Modified Bitumen, is unlikely to materialise in the near future due to the unavailability of the mix.
PWD secretary T O Sooraj said that the Kerala Government already has a proposal for using bitumen modified with latex. The proposal was shelved due to technical reasons, he said. “The bitumen is provided by the BPCL. In the present circumstances, sufficient mix is not available for the construction of roads,” Sooraj said.
PWD Minister Ebrahim Kunju said that the department is seriously considering the proposal and will use the bitumen blended with rubber for construction of roads in Kerala, if the mix is available.
K N Rajagopal, MP, had recently raised a question in the Rajya Sabha, regarding the steps being taken to promote rubberisation of roads in the country. In his reply, Oscar Fernandes, Minister of Road Transport and Highways, informed that the Indian Road Congress had published ‘Guidelines on use of polymer and rubber modified bitumen in road construction’.
These guidelines have now been accepted by the Ministry for adoption. Rajagopal had pointed out that if natural rubber is used for the construction of roads, the fall in price of the commodity can be checked to a certain extend. The conventional roads and highways which are generally constructed with bitumen is always susceptible to damages, especially during rains.
“Based on commercial trials, it was proved that the additional cost for rubberised roads comes to 15 to 20 per cent more when compared to bituminous roads. "However, it is possible to get 100 per cent more service life for the rubberised roads,” Balagopal said.
However, sources from the BPCL said that the plant in Kochi is equipped to produce latex mixed bitumen. If the government decides to use the mix, any quantity can be supplied for construction of roads in Kerala, they added.