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RESPONSE TO THE OBSERVATIONS BY SUPREME COURT COMMITTEE

ON ROAD SAFETY “ON ACCIDENTS DUE TO POTHOLES ON ROADS”


(Of NHs/SHs/MDRs/ODRs)

1. How do potholes develop and accidents occur?

As per IRC 82: 1982, Pot-holes are bowl shaped holes of varying sizes in a
surface layer or extending in to the base course caused by localised disintegration of
material. They usually appear after rain.

Causes:-

i. The most common cause of pot-hole formation is the ingress of water in to


the pavement through the surfacing course. This can happen if the surfacing
is open- textured and lacks proper camber. Water can enter the pavement
also through the cracks in the bituminous surface. The pavement gets
softened as a result and under the action of traffic a depression soon gets
formed. This is aggravated by use of plastic filler in WBM. If not attended to
properly, the aggregates in the surface get progressively loosened and a
regular pot-hole forms.
ii. Lack of proper bond between the bituminous surfacing and the underlying
water bound macadam base can also cause pot-holes. The bond is usually
supplied by a tack coat, and any localised inadequacies in these applications
can cause pot-holes.
iii. In sufficient bitumen content in localised areas of the surfacing layer can
cause pot-holes.
iv. Too thin a bituminous surface which is unable to withstand the heavy traffic
can also causepot-holes, when associated with improper or inadequate
camber.
v. In dense graded mixtures, pot-holes can be caused by too much fines or too
few fines.

Accidents:-Roads with many numbers of pot-holes hold minimum chance of


accidents as the speed has already been reduced. But sudden appearance of pot-
hole in a good stretch of road leads to accidentof the vehicle plying at high speed,
due to sudden impact and jerk in the pot-hole.

A. Impact of the vehicle with the pot-hole may cause damage to vehicle as well
as passengers/ driver.

B. Pot-hole filled with water may cause two wheelers to sustain injuries due to
lack of judgement the depth of pot-hole.

C. Vehicles plying at higher speed in the good stretch of roads with random pot-
holes may lead to loss of control resulting in hitting the road side objects/
hazards (median/ tree/ pole/ sign Boards/ Structures, etc) and run-off road
accident from high embankment.
D. Vehicles negotiating sudden pot-holes with good speed may divert from its
track and encounter Head-on collision with up-coming traffic from the
opposite direction.

E. With the sudden decrease of the speed of the fast moving vehicles due to the
presence of Pot-holes may lead to rear end collision with the vehicles coming
behind.

2. What is the procedure to decide that the accident has occurred due to
pot-holes?

There is no such provision/ guide lines enunciated in IRC (Indian Roads


Congress) codes to decide that, accidents have occurred due to Pot-holes
alone. However, the cause of accidents laid down in the previous points/
scenarios at paoint-1, may be examined with substantive evidence to
anticipate the reason of accident to be pot-hole, by the investigating team
comprising of the representatives of Police, RTO, concerned Road owning
agency at District Level.

3. Is there any provision or clause in the contract to fix responsibility on


the contractor, concessionaires and consultants?

In case of all NHs and State Road Projects the provisions in the
Contracts- Projects taken up in EPC mode have the provision of assigning
responsibility to the contractor during Construction and Maintenance period
as per clause 2.1 and 14 confirming to Annexure-I of Schedule- E, violation
of which may invite action as per the Clause of Contract .

For Example: for potholes time limit for rectification is 24 Hours.

Similarly, in Concessionaire shall have to repair and rectify the defects and
deficiencies, specified in Annexure-I of Schedule-K within the time limit set
forth therein in PPP Road Projects.

For Example: for potholes time limit for rectification is 48 Hours.

New Projects other than EPC/PPPmode, say State Funding/ NABARD works
also, have the provision of maintenance during construction and Defect
Liability period by the Construction Agency, say Contractors. But, no such
provision of fixing responsibility to the contractor, concessionaires and
consultants are there beyond the DLP/ Concession Period.

Beyond this stipulated periods up to which obligations lies with Contractors/


Concessionaires/ Consultants, as the case may be, as and when surface
defects detected, necessary action gets initiated by the road owning agencies
out of other repair and maintenance administrative expenses, subject to
availability of resources and sanctions of funds for the purpose, on priority
basis.
4. Amount allocated for maintenance of roads and its adequacy. How much
of the funds allocated was spent in last 3 years?

The provision of the payment to the contractor for maintenance obligations


varies from 7.5% to 10% of the contract price as per different ministry
circular. But there is a wide gap between the requirement and allocation
made.

Detail of funds spent out of allocation in last three years has been annexed. In
respect of Works Department (NH, Odisha) & DPI & Roads, the provision of
allotment vis-à-vis expenditure position during last 3 years have been shown
below:

Works Department (DPI & Roads)

Provision/ Allotment and Expenditure position under Demand No. 3054

Rs. in Lakh
Sl. No. Year Provision Expenditure Remarks

1 2015-16 75983.35 75983.35


2 2016-17 76312.85 76312.85
3 2017-18 76312.85 76312.85

4 2018-19 61050.28 25491.07 Till end Sept.


2018

Works Department (NH, Odisha)


5. What are the arrangements made for maintenance of roads? Is it done
in-house by PWD or Contracted out?

There is provision of maintenance by the executing agency (contractor) for


the EPC/PPP projects in the Defect Liability Period as well as Construction
Phase. But for the other stretch roads it is made out of Ordinary Repair &
Periodical Renewal depending upon the available resource to keep the road
safe and traffic worthy.

All the maintenance work is contracted out.

6. Are there any provisions for fixing responsibilities on the officers/ staff
of the road owning agency responsible for maintenance of roads?

There are no such provisions for fixing responsibilities on the officers/ staff
of road owning agency for maintenance of roads available because of
constraints of resource, approval, protocol, contract conditions, specific job
chart to specific group of employees. There is a periodicity of maintenance of
roads which are being followed by road agencies as per OPWD Code. Apart
from this, lack of collection and proof of substantive evidence in support of
strong accident attributable due to appearance of random surface defects/ pot
hole, which may ordinarily liable to the road agencies alone. As per Section
3000 of MORTH “Specifications for Roads and Bridge Works”, provisions for
maintenance of roads are being adhered to, specifically, for repair of
potholes, the procedures are comprehensively laid down.

7. Is there a Protocol for inspecting all the roads to see whether any pot-
hole has occurred or likely to occur and to take corrective action?

There is no such Protocol. Inspection of Road prior to proposing annual


maintenance are being dealt by concerned field Divisions of road owning
agencies to ensure safe and motarable plying of traffic with minimum degree
of Level of Service (LOS) on the road network of concerned field
jurisdictions.

However, efforts are being taken to address the issue of inspection of all the
roads to see any surface defects has occurred or likely to occur and to take
corrective measures through issuing a comprehensive guidelines/ Office
Memorandum on such Protocol.

8. Currently, there is No such provision of paying Compensation to the Victims


by Road Owning Agency. In Insurance section in Contracts of EPC/ PPP/
Externally funded projects, deals certain insurance claim and reimbursement
norms.

However, following facts and circumstances may be considered for not fixing
liability to the road owning agency unilaterally:-

I. There is no such procedure to ensure the reason of accident solely as


Pot-hole with evidence.
II. The funds allocated for maintenance will not suffice the very purpose
to maintain all the stretch up to the desired standard throughout the
year.
III. Feasibility with respect to Climatic condition and available resources
for intervention is not certainly a time bound affair.
IV. Moreover, the toll payers may be compensated by the
concessionaires during the construction/ maintenance period in
case of occurrence of such incidence on the stretches built &
operated through PPP mode.