Ludhiana commuters face a bumpy trip as potholes and rodents deface town

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From deep, potholed roads to broken footpaths on overpasses and rat-damaged bridges, residents of Ludhiana have a hard time getting around the city.

In the absence of patching and repair work after the end of the monsoon season, major potholes have formed in almost every neighborhood and on the main streets of Ludhiana, making the ride not only bumpy but also dangerous for drivers, motorcyclists and pedestrians.

In the absence of patching and repair work after the end of the monsoon season, major potholes have formed in almost every neighborhood and on the main streets of #Ludhiana.

Read: https://t.co/ndva50kwBB pic.twitter.com/Z566KPrMMf

— The Indian Express (@IndianExpress) October 27, 2022

The Ludhiana Municipal Corporation (LMC), the state’s largest municipal corporation with an area of ​​159 km² and a population of around 16,000 rupees, says it is facing a shortage of funds and materials needed for road repairs.

In its annual budget approved this year, the LMC has set an income target of around Rs 968 crore, with Rs 100 crore earmarked for road repairs, maintenance and construction.

Information gathered by The Indian Express revealed that LMC generated income of Rs 320 crore between April 1st and October 17th this year compared to Rs 389 crore in the same period last year.

Condition of the canal bypass at BRS Nagar in Ludhiana. (Express Photo by Gurmeet Singh)

However, the local body has only received Rs. 111 crore out of Rs. 611 crore as a share of government-levied GST – a major part of its revenue. It has also yet to receive the Rs 30 crore local tax levied on electricity bills by the Punjab State Power Corporation.

With tax collection expected to pick up in the final quarter, LMC officials said they will likely meet the revenue target by the end of the fiscal year.

The pockmarks that mark the city

After heavy rain on October 4, industrialists in Ludhiana’s Focal Point area took to social media, posting images of flooded streets and blaming the municipal body for the negligence and delay in repairing roads and the drainage system.

The industrialists also held a meeting and later issued a statement stating, “Focal point of Ludhiana is an industrial sector that pays huge taxes in the form of water and sewage fees, property tax, development tax, etc. The tax levied by Focal Point is used by the government to provide facilities to other parts of the state, which is totally unethical. Our taxes should be used for the development of our region. Focal Point industrialists may not pay taxes to the government if there is no infrastructure improvement in the near future.”

Badish Jindal, President of the Punjab Small Industries Association, said: “Broken roads and deep potholes make Ludhiana look bad to our customers who come from other cities and sometimes from abroad. Streets in Focal Point are flooded with sewage mixed with industrial waste. We do our business under such difficult conditions.”

The pothole problem worsened during the monsoon season this year, and commuters fumed as they navigated the broken, dirt- and water-ridden roads every day.

Piles of rubbish on the road under the bridge at Model Town near the Bus Stand in Ludhiana. (Express Photo by Gurmeet Singh)

“Never seen such dirty streets in Ludhiana before…. Repairs must be made now,” said RTI activist Kuldeep Singh Khaira, who has repeatedly urged the municipal body to repair the damaged road opposite Guru Nanak Engineering College near Gill Chowk.

“Hundreds of students come to the university every day. The deep potholes cause traffic jams,” Khaira said.

Major potholes reappeared on the main road in the Ludhiana model city expansion area after being repaired in October last year.

“The condition of this road began to deteriorate after traffic near the Pakhowal level crossing was diverted to this section due to the ongoing construction of a road under a bridge. You should at least have patches here. It’s hard to drive without getting a backache,” Jindal said, adding that the city was riddled with potholes.

Aditya Dachalwal, Additional Commissioner of LMC, said: “Several projects have stalled due to shortage of materials. We have carried out a tender for the implementation of road repair work in the area of ​​​​industrial focus. The contract to rehabilitate the road at Kaka Dhola and the section between the Dhandari Bridge and the railway line has already been awarded.”

Of mice and men

Potholes aren’t the only roadblocks commuters in Ludhiana face. Rodents feeding on garbage cans that lay under bridges and overpasses across the city are said to have hollowed out structures, damaging footpaths and making them unsafe.

On April 30, part of the footpath on Jagraon Bridge collapsed, prompting a high-level investigation by the city government. An inspection revealed that rodents had entered the drainage holes provided in the retaining walls to drain water and were carrying soil from within, weakening the structure.

Potholes along the road outside the professors’ colony in Ludhiana. (Express Photo by Gurmeet Singh)

Gurpal Singh Grewal, a city-based businessman who first pointed out the damage, said a fish market and a drain near the bridge would attract the rodents.
Singh, who runs a shop near the bridge, said this was not the first time rodents had damaged the bridge.

“A few years ago, rodents had started damaging the retaining wall near Durga Mata Mandir, but it was noticed early and the wall was plastered,” he said.

On May 14, 2018, the retaining wall of the Gill Chowk Overpass collapsed, allegedly after rodents excavated soil from the wall’s soil infill area.

A three-man committee formed to investigate the incident had proposed removing dumps that lay under the bridges and overpasses across the city.

Rakesh Singla, Senior Engineer of LMC’s Construction and Roads Department, said: “In the past, some incidents occurred due to garbage at the site, which attracted rodents. But now we have started using reinforced concrete cement (RCC) which has largely solved the problem.”

LMC Supplementary Commissioner Dachalwal said the local authority has committed to building and repairing roads across the city, adding that patching potholes near Dholewal Chowk has already begun.