Fixing road and lane levels in cities

The importance of roads , well built and maintained roads, not only add lustre of its own manner to a particular city but plays a critical role in its economic development by providing the mode of various utilities to reach the people. Roads maintained poorly constrain mobility, hinder traffic movement and even cause accidents besides adding to the vehicle operating costs. Emergency services of health, fire and other utilitilies too get vastly affected due to sub-standard and poorly maintained roads , all contributing towards the woes of the people. A nicely but professionally planned and maintained road network must be among the top priorities of any Government. If we talk of roads and lanes but not the drains which provide a foolproof drainage system of the city and its colonies, the entire issue would appear to be a half hearted approach to the issue of roads and lanes. Repairs are an integral part of the road network. Maintaining the road levels, though cardinally important, are usually seen being looked into by unskilled labour, practically no one to supervise about the levels maintained related to existing structures – mainly human settlements and the drains taking care of the drainage system.
We have been watching repairs of Jammu roads and lanes being done by putting rather adding layers of blacktopping and other material without making ground for the same at the previous levels by removing the earlier worn out material from the road. With such a practice, not only is the quality of roads getting eroded but fast deterioration is the result on account of the impact of climate and vehicle movements on such roads. Following set rules of maintenance, repairs and even fresh constructions of roads is an important and non negotiable prerequisite. Each year with this half hearted and unprofessional approach, the road levels and the lane levels as well, keep on ascending by not in inches but menacingly by 1 to 2 feet over some years. This results in either the plinth levels of the adjacent buildings and the roads practically not only resting at the same alignment and degree but even bringing in an imbalance to the detriment of the residential houses and other buildings resulting subsequently in choking the drainage out from the affected buildings and at times rain water and sewage water entering the houses. Since plinth levels cannot be altered unless the entire structure was demolished, it becomes the duty of the concerned departments /agencies of the Government to ensure that the existing settlements did not encounter problems on account of avoidable elevated road levels. It is another issue to make it a pre-condition for according fresh building permissions where plinth levels are maintained at a reasonable height from the road levels to make room for addition of repairing material on them.
If we see the haphazard way of going on putting layers of layers of repairing material and blacktopping each year in Jammu city, coupled with drainage structures, drains etc full of debris and other obstructing material – the whole approach seems in dire need of professionalism. If we are really aspiring to see Jammu transformed into a Smart City, the first and the foremost pre-requisite is meticulously professional maintenance of roads which comprise proper levelling. Rutting and other damages of roads in Jammu often occur during rainy season chiefly because the quality of the road maintenance and construction are compromised. It must be seen that road levels in no case are raised to create drainage problems.
In Jammu , it is said that the drainage system is so natural that any amount of torrential rains never cause drainage problems but last week’s heavy downpour proved it wrong because of faulty drainage system, weak maintenance of roads and encroachments. Jammu Municipal Corporation is beset with public anger when even rainwater rushes gushing into their houses. Therefore, proper planning and strategy about level maintenance must form the top priority in road management. Urban Local Bodies, duly elected and adequately provided with funds, must address the issue of maintaining roads and lanes properly, issue building permissions as per latest guidelines on city planning norms and maintaining road levels norms. Why not, Jammu city merits to be among the first ones to be turned into a Smart City hence better management of roads and lanes.