PWD, R&B & PHE: Ensure Better Coordination

The PHE must fix leakage in water pipelines to minimize road damages

Kashmir’s harsh winter months followed by rains in March and April damage our road surfaces every year. People always wait for the summer to come so that Govt agencies especially PWD, R&B would restore the damaged roads. The bitumen reinforced blacktopping which is also called macadamization is done in every nook and corner of J&K as we are yet to replace this with cement concrete roads.

The bitumen usually gets damaged in sub zero temperatures, and waterlogging on roads causes massive damage to it. For the last few years the Jal Jeevan Mission-JJM programme has also caused large scale damages to our roads especially in rural areas as huge water supply pipelines were laid, damaging the bitumen layers.

I know many areas in Srinagar, Pulwama and Budgam where macadamisation on roads was done in 2021 or 2022 and the same roads were destroyed by the contractors of Public Health Engineering -PHE, Jal Shakti Department to lay the water pipelines.

There is a lack of coordination between PWD, R&B and PHE. It is also not clear whether the contractors of PHE Jal Shakti pay for the road cuts or not and if this is done is that money spent on the ground or not? These details need to be made public by both PHE Jal Shakti & PWD for the benefit of people.

Macadamisation Manual

As the blacktopping season has started in Kashmir I thought to write about this issue so that both Govt as well as the citizens get to know about various aspects of macadamisation and how this can be made better. In fact in the year 2021 as per media reports J&K government exceeded targets of macadamisation. Against the set target of 1454.02 kms, the department has macadamized 1657.58 kms in the Valley by the end of October 2021.
In 2022 and 2023 the targets were achieved but the work quality is being questioned in many places especially in rural areas. There are two Govt agencies in rural areas which work on macadamisation of roads, PWD ( R&B) Department and Pradhan Mantri Gram Sadak Yojna – PMGSY. These agencies are supposed to follow several guidelines issued by the Union Ministry of Road Transport and Highways-MoRTH and J&K Govt as well.

The J&K Administrative Council (AC) headed by Lieutenant Governor Manoj Sinha in its decision dated January 9th 2022 adopted the J&K Macadamisation (Execution and Quality Control and DLP Enforcement) Manual.
This is part of the engineering manual 2021. After the AC’s meeting the Principal Secretary Public Works department issued a Govt order No: 42 PW (R&B) 3.02.2022 wherein sanction was given for the adoption of the Macadamisation (Execution and Quality Control and DLP Enforcement) Manual. The Department of Public Works J&K Govt has compiled these manuals by incorporating the best practices in the field in accordance with the latest standards and endeavours to bring about uniformity in practices, promote transparency and ensure engineering perfection.

Scarifying road surface

It has now become a trend to blacktop roads without even scarifying the surface. This increases the height of the roads every year and isn’t technically feasible as well. The boundary walls around residential houses located on main roads look short and shabby now as continuous bitumen layers have elevated most of the road surfaces.

Scarifying is breaking up hard or compacted materials to create enough space for material to settle down. Just placing Bitumen filling material on a damaged road surface to fill the ruts and potholes is a temporary fix. The bitumen material does not bind in the ruts and potholes. This only increases the height of the road and makes the surrounding landscape shabby. The proper way to reshape the damaged road is to scarify the surface to the depth of the depressions. This breaks up all the compacted surrounding surface materials. After scarifying the material, the Bitumen can settle down properly.

Cement concrete roads

Instead of Bitumen reinforced macadamised roads the cement concrete roads have a long service life which can last from 35 to 40 years. On the other hand roads made up of Bitumen last for around 10 years in areas with no snowfall, but in a place like Kashmir or Ladakh where the temperature drops down to sub-zero and there is heavy snowfall as well these roads get damaged within 2 to 3 years only.

During the service life concrete roads do not require frequent repairs or patching work like macadamized roads. The vehicles that run over a concrete road, consume 15-20 per cent less fuel as compared to roads made of asphalt –bitumen.
This is because of the fact that a concrete road does not get deflected under the wheels of loaded heavy vehicles. During the processing of bitumen lots of toxic gases are emitted from these plants and subsequent less fuel consumption by the vehicle operating on a concrete road leads to little pollution as well.


The macadamisation work has been started in Kashmir and this will be done on a large scale in the upcoming months especially when the Model Code of Conduct-MCC ends. I would suggest that the J&K Macadamisation Manual should be the guiding principle for all the Executive Engineers, Assistant Executive Engineers, Junior Engineers and Works Supervisors of PWD (R&B), PMGSY and other Govt institutions.

There should be proper coordination between PWD & PHE Departments and road cuts should be minimised. I would suggest frequent meetings be held between PWD & PHE Engineers so that water pipeline leakages are minimized.

Only a few days back blacktopping of Chadoora Hanjura road was done, but the leakage in the water pipeline is yet to be fixed and that has started leaking again. This is simply wastage of taxpayers money which needs to be taken seriously.