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Pothole Menace in Bangalore

Updated: Jun 12, 2020

One of the biggest concerns of India and especially Bangalore is pothole roads. It is a cancer that keeps the roads always ready for fatality. Once a senior and elderly professional met and he said, Bangalore has the highest number of Ph. Ds,.I asked how did you say that, he said we have so many Pot Hole Drivers (Ph.D). It was funny but also a sad state to be in. One can afford a luxurious multi- crore / lakh car but the rides are still uncomfortable and unpleasant. Even a car drive can be back breaking and bumpy, imagine the state of two wheel drivers. 

>  The number of accidents on roads is killing almost 1 person every 3 mins across India according to roads authority and traffic police. Out of that more than 35-40% is because of potholes.

>  There was another very interesting research shared 10-12% orphans are created every year in India and almost 40% of them are created from road accidents where parents and guardians were killed. Out of that 40% road accidents, 35 to 40% are caused from potholes, so intern about 1.5 to 2% of orphans are created by potholes. This is significant challenge and needs a very high priority intervention


> At least 3 to 4 news articles in a week are related to pothole issues that public face. It can be related to fatal death, inconvenience, traffic, delays, blockages and many health concerns. So many NGOs, public and welfare associations raise their voice and keep posting complaints and grievance to the concerned authorities.

> Its important to aggregate and make the authorities aware, but sadly  no one takes ownership of solving the issue. There are many apps, web platforms, news papers for public to post complaints and issues, but its all ultimately passed on to either BBMP or PWD or road authorities.

> The local corporators & office bearers have their excuses and reasons for not been able to fix the pothole issues. 

There are definitely many people who have pothole management as a key agenda either as a business proposition or as a social venture, but there needs to be a strong and serious intervention that can bring both systemic change with preventive and  corrective measures.

As I research and read more about pothole issue, there are many organizations & corporations who are spending a lot of money on road safety, awareness, technology innovations for handling roads which are full of potholes, innovative suspensions for cars and bikes, and many other ways to either solve or live with pothole issues.

I ran a survey to public and lot of known friends and professionals asking about their views about pothole issues. Key insights were that they all feel that there is a need for serious innovative intervention, more ownership and participation from public and private parties needed, technology can surely be a game changes and of course being Eco-friendly in the process is required.They also mentioned that our governance and monitoring system needs lot of focus and change. There needs to be public dashboards and awareness on pothole management as a whole. Many did say that they are willing to spend at least 30 mins to 1 hour a week as a volunteer for fixing pothole issues. 

As I see there needs to be a holistic public private technology governance and strong intent based intervention which can help solve or at least manage the issues of potholes.

There is a possibility of using CSR (Corporate Social Responsibility) and donation fund to work on addressing the issue of potholes. As the latest mandate of allocating minimum 2% for CSR spend when a company has 500 CR revenue or 5 CR profit. This mandate of CSR definitely is meant to add value to society and its issue. If we can channelize and capitalize these funds in most appropriate manner and attempt to contribute to managing these pothole issues, it would make a difference. 

I had a chance to meet very senior professionals from branded and well recognized builders and developers. One of the important point made by them was about approach roads that connects to their properties both residential and commercial needs to maintained by them through the life of the project. But as of now only for getting approvals of plan and project kick off they spend some money to manage and maintain the roads. The heavy vehicles that carry the construction materials is surely one of the major cause of potholes on roads. These builders need to ensure those pothole are fixed and made commutable by others. However, this another loophole in the system. 

But as I see, they are willing to participate and be socially responsible. they are willing to spend using CSR and funding to manage these potholes. They need a support system to manage potholes rather than them depending on BBMP or other authorities to fix. 

An other important factor is the method and technology of asphalt. The asphalt technology which is over a century old is still used in similar ways in current manufacturing and paving business. There are so many new technology, innovative alternate material, environmentally safe and friendly processing, However, the Indian asphalt manufacturer are yet to adapt that change. There is also mandate from supreme court of India to use of 8 to 10% plastic waste along with asphalt aggregate during hot mix preparation. Its yet to see it in reality. When I visit many asphalt plants, they have put a plastic waste smelting unit for compliance purpose but hardly or never used. They say that the clients do not mandate or ask for it. This would surely add some benefit to reducing plastic waste, reducing use of bitumen a natural resource and also help roads water clogging to some extent. However, this is yet to make an impact. 

There are also cold asphalt ready mix that are available which is one the best solutions for pothole fix. I was in US and other countries and there you can just visit any hardware shop and buy a 25 kg or 50 kg bag of cold asphalt that can be bought and you can fill the potholes on your driveway or roads by yourself. There is no need for any skill or machinery required. 

It is very simple and best way to address the issue of pothole with Eco-friendly, longer shelf life and safe product. 

However, in India this product though exists, is hardly known or used. Very few PWD and road authorities use and recommend this. Many asphalt manufacturers and contractors are not even aware about such a product. 

There are many advantages of cold asphalt mix vs. hot mix. It does not need heavy duty machines for preparation, laying and storing, It has a longer shelf life of up to 1 yr where as hot mix needs to be used with in 3-4 hrs else its waste. The aggregate of cold is using least bitumen, but many organic and Eco-friendly mix, it is all weather use, it can be used even in heavy rains & in all conditions. It does not need to be always in large quantity or order, where as hot mix needs to be minimum 16-20 ton other wise its not viable to manufacture. Just to switch on a hot mixing plant the manufacturer has to have over 600 lts of diesel to start, and with that if they do not run it for at least 2 day of min 40-50 trucks (each with 16-20 tons) it does not benefit the manufacturer. Where as cold mix does not have any such restrictions. 

As I get deeper and dig more about potholes, there is wealth of information that is useful to solve and address the issues in an innovative, holistic, Eco-friendly  and using public private partnership.

PotHoleRaja is a humble initiative on these lines. My vision is "To have Indian Roads pothole free and fix them within 3 days". I am sure with support from public, companies, builders, associations, NGOs, volunteers, and govt. this is possible. It does call for a lot of hard work and systemic change, I do see a great satisfaction in seeing people commute with ease, safely and with no back breaking or fatal incidences. 

I would love to get your inputs, perspectives, experiences and suggestions to make this vision come true. 

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