Upgrading roads

Today I went to buy some tires for the car. The old ones were nearing the end of their lives and with the monsoon approaching, I thought it best not to take chances with the mud on the roads. But it seems that this is the wrong time to buy tires here because everyone buys them before the monsoons and the rates have shot up in anticipation. I knew the sales went up before the rains but I thought they would be cheaper since the manufactures will be selling a lot more of them than they usually do. You need really good traction to get through this season and people who need tires usually get them before the rains. The dealer told me that they start stocking up for the monsoon with the onset of summer because the tire companies increase the price right about now.

The roads really take a beating in India during the monsoon. They are literally ripped off their foundations because of the onslaught of water and wind. Then there is all the debris that is washed away on-road because of flooding and adds to the pounding a road has to bear. Till recently most of the roads were made with tar on their surface as they had been since the British rule. But now the government is using concrete – better all the way. It lasts longer and is much cooler than tarred roads. So while the initial costs are higher with concrete, economics balances out in the end because of longevity. The travelling experience is also better for commuters with concrete because less potholes means lower wear-and-tear and smoother rides.

I remember earlier when the roads were tarred, they used to actually flow downhill during the hot summer months. During the afternoon’s peak heat it used to get so hot that the tar would melt and form clumps by collecting at the lowest spot. If you walked on it during the afternoon you would likely leave your shoe impression on the road. And if by chance the road was recently tarred, you could actually fall as the tar slipped out from under your feet. It was much safer to walk on the rough sandy side of the road instead of being on the road. I guess it also reduced your chances of getting hit by oncoming vehicles, J.

In MP Nagar where I work, the roads are now RCC (Reinforced Concrete Cement, reinforced with steel rods) – adding another twenty years to their useful lives. They finished the work last year after ten years of meetings and planning. If you lasted visited this commercial area a few years back and then came now, you would barely recognize the place. Earlier you had to assume the presence of a road from the long parallel gap between adjacent buildings. The place has had a major makeover and property values have gone up here despite the depreciation in real-estate everywhere else.

Simultaneously while the MP Nagar roads were being done, our municipal body also replaced our residential area tar roads with concrete ones. Including the one in front of our house. There are still a few tar roads on-route my office from home but they are slowly being replaced with RCC. Hopefully, over the next few years, all the tar roads in Bhopal will be replaced by concrete ones. But I am not complaining at all. The government is doing the work at an admirable pace. Now it’s a smooth ride all the way from home to my office.

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