While GHMC aims to develop a total of 274 km of city roads into concrete, the residents fear if these roads would be dug up, for pipe repair and other works.

Hyderabad VDCC road which is cracked after a year of use
news Infrastructure Saturday, January 16, 2021 - 17:28

The place where Jahangir runs his scooter repair shop at MCH market road floods every time it rains in Hyderabad. “The road before my shop used to be waterlogged with overflowing sewage all through the year and was full of potholes. Now it’s a lot better,” he says. The municipal officials laid larger drainage pipelines and replaced the bitumen road before his repair shop with a concrete road, also referred to as a Vacuum Dewatered Cement Concrete (VDCC) road.  

“They replaced the road before the lockdown last year. Though there was waterlogging in the area due to the October rains, the road didn't get damaged as before,” says the 55-year-old. “But the manholes are still not aligned with the road,” he adds.  

The Greater Hyderabad Municipal Corporation (GHMC) claims to have so far laid nearly 80 kilometres of VDCC roads across the city for Rs 58 crore. The municipality now has plans to identify localities with stretches of roads that are prone to develop potholes and replace them with concrete roads.

The aim is to develop a total of 247 km of city roads into concrete roads by the year-end for an estimated Rs 187 crore, reported Telangana Today. The project was started on a pilot basis in 2018 on select stretches of road within the city.

TNM travelled to a few localities where the municipality has already laid these roads. The locals and roadside shop owners welcomed the move saying that the concrete roads stayed in better shape with fewer potholes after incessant rains in September and October 2020. However, many wondered if these roads would be dug up again as in the case of bitumen roads, for pipe repair and other works. 

The technology behind VDCC roads increases the longevity of the roads as compared to bitumen roads. The longer life of the road also means that lesser money is spent on road maintenance over time. These roads can withstand higher tension reducing the number of cracks and potholes. GHMC hopes that the concrete roads once laid will last for a minimum of two decades.

Srinivas K, who runs a kirana store at Balkampet where a large stretch of bitumen road was replaced with a concrete road, says, “They laid the road here sometime in 2019 but later the water department people came and dug up one side of the road for changing pipelines. After the work, they just poured concrete and filled the trench and now the part of the road where they dug is uneven with the rest of the road.”

Similar digging works were also carried out at the end of the MCH market road that leads to the Mumbai highway. The Red Hills road was one of the roads selected by the GHMC for the roll-out of concrete roads in the city. Localities at Himayatnagar, Ayyappa Society, Niloufer Hospital Road, Allapur Road, Kakatiya Hills and Banjara Hills Road No. 12 are a few of the other places where these concrete roads were laid. 

When the city flooded in October 2020, the colonies adjacent to Nilourfer cafe had faced waterlogging. Imran, who runs a digital advertising firm, says he was at risk of losing lakhs worth of equipment as the water from the Red Hills road flowed in. “This is a low-lying area, so we eventually made holes on the concrete road for allowing the water to drain faster.” All along the Red Hills road, there are no visible stormwater drain outlets.

Dr KM Lakshmana Rao, Professor and Director of BICS (Bureau of Industrial Consultancy Services) with Jawaharlal Nehru Technological University (JNTU), Hyderabad says concrete roads can’t be dug up like the bitumen roads to carry out work for water or sewerage pipelines. ”The laying of concrete roads requires adequate planning and coordination between utility providers. The geometry of each street, the relation between pedestrian and the road has to be taken into account. The municipality does not have the technical expertise to factor these in, so the accountability rests with the contractor.” The professor adds that life of the road depends solely on the quality of material used and also the process of laying the road. If the municipality is not careful, these concrete roads could develop cracks and develop potholes, just like bitumen roads. 

Rao also points out that the lack of adequate stormwater drains on these roads could lead to water flowing into low-lying areas causing flooding. “Take for instance the Khairathabad area, it receives just 30 mm of annual rainfall but the water flowing through the roads in that locality is over 3 meters. This affects both bitumen and concrete roads.”

GHMC officials were unavailable for comment.

Become a TNM Member for just Rs 999!
You can also support us with a one-time payment.