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Improper installation leading to paver ‘blocks’

Business

Paver blocks laid in many parts of Mumbai are unable to stand the test of time due to improper installation.

The city municipal corporation (BMC) is using paver blocks quite extensively despite its own committee’s recommendation suggesting it to use only for minor roads and footpaths. Although experts think that paver blocks are not a bad alternative to asphalt or concretised roads, they have emphasised on proper installation and maintenance.

“Paver blocks are good as they offer a cheaper and faster alternative to conventional roads. But proper method should be followed while laying them,” said Nikhil Desai, an engineer, and coordinator for AGNI (an NGO). Currently there are a number of suppliers who provide these paver blocks.

“We supply according to our clients’ requirement. Paver blocks have many advantages as they are faster to install, can be cost effective and can be laid on narrow lanes,” said Firdaus Variava, director, sales and marketing, Bharat Flooring & Tiles.

Last year, the BMC had appointed a standing technical advisory committee to monitor the quality of roads. The Committee recommended manufacturing three types of paver blocks for — footpaths, light traffic and strips, and heavy traffic. The surface below the block and on the sides should be laid properly using materials like sand or lean concrete. “There are enough standards but the point is to adhere to them from manufacture to final finished surface.

These blocks are inappropriate for Mumbai roads due to their inherent poor specification of laying on dry sand, and unprepared surfaces. The blocks then tend to give way, just like potholes, the open joints in between which are very dangerous for pedestrians,” said architect Jagdeep Desai, a founder trustee, Forum for Improving Quality of Life in Mumbai/Suburbs.

“BMC engineers never inspect these roads. Also there is no co-ordination between various departments like water, electricity and telephone that dig up these blocks but do not lay them back properly.

Hence we have suggested that there should be third party monitoring. We need participation from private players and citizens to improve our civic system,” said Adolf D’souza, an independent councilor JVPD. This year BMC has allocated Rs1000 crore for rebuilding and maintenance of roads (an increase of Rs200 crore from last year).

“So the local body wants to give due importance to roads but people can hardly see any maintenance work. The money is spent on cheaper paver blocks and pedestrians continue to have substandard roads and footpaths,” added Nikhil Desai. RTI activist Gaurang Vora said: “The BMC had spent Rs30 crore in laying paver blocks in the last two years without any audit or checks.”

Nikhil Desai said that out of 2000 km of roads in Mumbai, only 400 km has been concretised so far. “Of the remaining, 400 km will be done using paver blocks while the rest will be concretised.” But paver blocks are now seen as somekind of quick fix tool by contractors.

“These are being done on a whole sale basis as these blocks can be put on the road very fast. Recovery of the contracted amount is therefore much faster than concrete roads or asphalt roads,” said Jagdeep Desai.

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