Building drains and filling potholes still not scientific

A lot of infrastructure that we have in the city is deliberately bad. Take the example of shoulder drains on roads. More than 200 years have passed since it was scientifically proven that water flows better in a cylindrical container than in a rectangular container (and it was known, empirically, even before the proof). So why do our ‘engineers’ in the city – with various titles – keep building rectangular shoulder drains?

Simple – because the cronies of the corporators who hijack these contracts are not competent enough to build anything else. All they know is to pour cement (and by the way, the cement they use for most drains is enough to support a full two-storey building). They don’t have any manufacturing facility to make cylinders, and they are certainly not the type for whom any self-respecting design professional would work.

The same thing with potholes. Tackling them as they develop requires some engineering capacity, but what we have is ‘friends with buckets’. All they know is to pour tar on various patches and stomp that with some neanderthal wooden board. In fact BBMP corporators even argued in council that ‘this is not at all hard work, anyone can do it’ as the reason to not turn pothole-management into a full-fledged city contract with engineering firms.

‘Anyone can do it’ is usually code for ‘I know a guy who should be given the contract to do it.’

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About Ashwin Mahesh 96 Articles
Ashwin Mahesh has been involved in public policy for Bengaluru through his work with the Karnataka government. The views expressed here are his own. He is a member of the Lok Satta party. He is also CEO of Mapunity Information Services, and a director at Oorvani Media, publisher of Citizen Matters and India Together. He is also a visiting faculty with the Centre for Public Policy at IIM Bangalore.