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Saturday, May 21, 2011

The gaping hole – Crater at Triplicane and the good response of Corporation JE Div 89.

Indian roads are bad replete with holes and craters, big enough to receive a vehicle inside is the refrain that we hear quite often.

Actually, the infrastructure [despite all the scams and cuts in contracts] is improving and there are some good roads – still one has to drive very carefully as you can encounter a jay walker, a casually darting two wheeler or wandering tractor or a heavy vehicle coming on the wrong side of the road. 

The roads are generally laid of tar / asphalt concrete – a composite material consiting of asphalt as a binder in layers and compacted do have big holes commonly called pothole.  There is a similar sounding name in tamil ‘pothal’ which would also refer to a gaping hole especially on a surface.  But the English word pothole is not a derivative from tamil.  In some parts it is called kettle or a chuckhole – is a type of disruption in the surface of a roadway where a portion of the road material gives way leaving hole.  Potholes basically are weak spots occurring over a period of time.  They are mostly formed due to fatigue and develop in a pattern known as "alligator cracking". The chunks of pavement between fatigue cracks are worked loose and may eventually be picked out of the surface by continued wheel loads, thus forming a pothole.  It is also caused by temperature changes and occur regularly at various places. 

Though initially they would only be a few inches deep, they would develop [deteriorate rather] in to more trouble when not attended to immediately.  When the cracks get wider and deeper, they cause damage to tire and vehicle suspension.  Two wheelers can have serious trouble riding over them.  Serious road accidents can occur as a direct result, especially on motorways where vehicle speeds are greater. They are frequently almost invisible to road users especially at night. 

The problems are compounded as many a times, the inner soil may not have been compacted or might not have stone / gravel mix and hence could turn loose after the road is laid.  There would only be a thin layer of tar which might get washed after a heavy rain or after heavy vehicle movement.  Potholes form because asphalt road surfaces eventually crack under the heat of the day and the constant stresses of traffic. These cracks allow snow and rainwater to seep into the underlying dirt and gravel. During cold winter nights, this water freezes and expands. Some of the dirt and gravel is pushed out as a result, leaving a hole when the water eventually melts. Drivers continue to drive over these unseen holes, putting even more stress on the thin asphalt layer covering them.

some of the accidents at Europe

Once in a while one reads of roads caving in. last year, in the German town of Schmalkalden, an enormous crater-like hole had appeared splitting the road in two and taking with it a car.  A part of a hospital in Shanxi province China reportedly collapsed because of two sudden craters.   Elsewhere in UK three men escaped serious injury after unknowingly driving their pick-up truck into a massive water-filled hole.  Immediately British Press reported that potholes are an all-too-common hazard for drivers in UK, though they do not threaten to swallow your whole car.

Though not of this magnitude, we witnessed a sudden developing crater in Triplicane on 18th May 2011.  It was amazing to see that earth has caved in suddenly possibly unable to bear some vehicle that passed by and that there was nothing below the gaping hole [around 5 ft depth] – where the earth below went does not have an answer.

Triplicane [Chennai, Tamilnadu] being an area with wealth of bovine population, it certainly posed a hazard to the cattle, elderly road users as also vehicle users.  The Corporation and Police were immediately at hand, making it temporarily covered and ensuring that the hole was properly filled in and closed sooner.

The efforts of the Divisional Engineer of the Division 89 deserves special appreciation.  
After the filling up - immediate good work

Regards – S. Sampathkumar.


  1. Generally Chennai Corporation is criticised for not doing anything. The cleaning work is now is a mess after contracted to Neel Metal fanalca

  2. the cleanliness of chennai city leaves lot to be desired... see other cities and you will understand the difference for yourselves = Cherian

  3. what a hole - big on road, capable of taking in a child or a two wheelr