Thursday, August 11, 2016

The Paradise Road

By Ananthitha A*
Bad roads, bad roads, bad roads everywhere. Out of the 15 km from my home to office, at least 2 km is fully damaged with gutters, potholes and cracks, 12 km is partially damaged and the rest 1 km an assurance to the believe the myth that, ‘roads in Kerala can be in good condition’.
Who is responsible for the horrible state of our roads?
They blame many. They blame the rain. They say, the torrential rains in Kerala weaken the bond between the tar/bitumen and stone. They say the rains hinder the repair works also and thus the roads are all and more damaged by rains.
They blame the trees on road sides. To add to the cruelties of this villain rain, the drainage less roads have big trees on roadsides at many places. The dripping rainwater from trees is poison to the tar, killing it drop by drop!
They blame the sun. They say, the scorching heat of the sun melt the tar and ruin our roads.
They blame the wind. They say, the winds blow away the stones leaving the sticky tar.
They blame the speeding vehicles and their rubber tyres. They blame the unruly drivers.
Oh God! So many to be blamed.
So, how can we protect and save our roads? You mean, we should avoid all the culprits from road? Yes. Keep away, the rain, the sun, the winds, the trees and most importantly, the vehicles with their drivers from our delicate roads.  Then what are the roads meant for?
That’s true. Then is tar/bitumen the culprit? “During the early and mid-20th century when town gas was produced, coal tar was a readily available by product and extensively used as the binder for road aggregates”, says Wikipedia. So, isn’t it time to move ahead?
It is heard that in Netherlands, there are roads made for absorbing the rainwater which thus allows for recharging the groundwater. So rain should not be a villain to our roads too!
Many cities in the developed world encourage the planting of trees along public streets.  Healthy tree-lined streets are a key component of the ‘Urban Forest’, states the ‘Urban Forest Plan’ of San Francisco.  ‘The Urban Forest Plan’ provides a strategy to create a more sustainable urban forest and a truly green city. So street trees should not be villains to our roads too!
“A solar roadway is a modular system of specially engineered solar panels that can be walked and driven upon. Missouri's Department of Transportation is aiming to install a test version of the startup's solar road tiles in a sidewalk at the Historic Route 66 Welcome Center in Conway”. How can we now call sun a villain to roads?
There are researches going on trying to understand whether, the road transport pressure can be used to generate electricity. Yes, the speed and brakes are not villains too.
So, what is our choice? To be part of the blame game and suffer silently/violently in these bad roads? Or start petitions in change.org asking Prime Minister Narendra Modi to start funding some road research in India? Or become Anniyan and solve all our road woes on our own?

 *Ananthitha A, Environmental Engineer, Ultra-Tech, Environmental Consultancy and Laboratory. Views expressed by the author is personal and does not reflect that of CPPR.

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