PWD finalises a 10-yr plan for 1,400km road network in Delhi


The Public Works Department (PWD) has finalised and sent for approval its 21,500 crore 10-year action plan that envisages dividing its 1,400km road network into sections for streamlining repair, sanitation, and maintenance and beautification works of the Capital’s roads.

All roads that are over 60 feet wide come under PWD, putting the most arterial stretches across the city under the agency’s ambit. According to officials, Delhi has a 18,460.37km road network, of which 1,400km fall under PWD and see 70% of Delhi’s traffic. (Sanchit Khanna/HT Photo)

Under the mega plan which is part of the Budget for the current financial year, all roads will be divided into around seven to eight packages, with each of them being handled by a single agency for the next 10 years.

The plan was sent to PWD minister Atishi’s office earlier this week and is awaiting the approval of the Cabinet, officials aware of the matter said.

“We have recently finalised all the details and the scheme has been sent to the PWD minister. It is expected to be tabled in the next Cabinet meeting and will be implemented once it is approved. We will then start the process of floating tenders to appoint agencies that will be responsible for maintenance of the road stretches for the next 10 years,” a PWD official said, asking not to be named.

Till now, multiple agencies were involved in the maintenance, repair and beautification of these roads — for example, sanitation work was done by the Municipal Corporation of Delhi, and their repair and maintenance was done by agencies based on need. Thus, if a road section was broken, a tender was awarded to an agency that would carry out repairs.

Under the current plan, a single agency — PWD — will do all this work for the next 10 years.

While the plan is already delayed by two months, officials said that it can take off by end of June, if approved in the next Cabinet meeting. Chief minister Arvind Kejriwal in January said that work in this regard will start from April 1.

The Cabinet meeting is likely to be held next month.

In March, finance minister Kailash Gahlot, while presenting the annual Budget, described the upgrade plan as “biggest effort in the history of any Indian city” to improve road infrastructure.

Of the total estimated budget for the ambitious project, the government plans to spend 2,034 crore in the first year of its implementation, and 19,466 crore in the next nine years, Gahlot had said.

All roads that are over 60 feet wide come under PWD, putting the most arterial stretches across the city under the agency’s ambit. According to officials, Delhi has a 18,460.37km road network, of which 1,400km fall under PWD and see 70% of Delhi’s traffic.

The plan includes repairing and re-carpeting the entire PWD road and pavement network, greening unpaved areas alongside roads, as well as regular sweeping and washing. In the first year, the agency will initially carry out basic repair along the roads, officials said.

“The 1,400km road network have been divided into seven to eight packages. One agency will most likely be responsible for one package for the next decade. In the first one year, by June 2024, this agency will have to ensure complete repair and renovation work. This will include blacktopping of the surface, mending broken patches, repairing potholes and footpaths as well as pedestrian crossings. It will also include placing signage, repainting of surfaces and zebra crossings, and relaying of tiles wherever required,” said another PWD official, wishing not to be named.

Ensuring planting of trees and shrubs along the roads and central verge will also be a major component that the agency will have to comply with, the official added.

The third component will be regular cleaning and sanitation.

The particular agency will have to ensure daily sweeping and cleaning of roads using mechanical sweeping machines and washing at least thrice a week to keep road dust minimum. Additionally, it will have to ensure desilting of drains, either annually or as per requirement along that stretch.

In his Budget speech, Gahlot also mentioned that the government will procure 70 road-sweeping machines and 210 larger water sprinklers and anti-smog gun machines, as well as 250 smaller water sprinkler machines to ensure such large-scale cleaning of arterial roads.

Officials said that there will be a centralised control room for monitoring the entire work under this plan after the repair work is done in the first year,besides a reporting mechanism for people to send complaints and report any broken patches. Spot fixing can be done of these areas to prevent any further damage, officials added.

Experts said that while the plan to integrate all aspects of road maintenance and have a single agency responsible for all the work to fix accountability, its implementation will be the key.

“It is an ambitious plan. However, it also now needs to be implemented on ground and executed properly with all checks and reporting mechanisms,” said S Velmurugan, chief scientist and head, Traffic Engineering and Safety Division, Central Road Research Institute (CRRI).

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