The rains are up (except the fact that there were sudden showers last night) and the summer is fast approaching. As is the case every season for the past few years now, as a Chennai-ite, you’d be treated to a dazzling display of new tar roads freshly laid by the corporation of Chennai. This is an elaborate process involving many labourers, uninterrupted burning of rubber in order to obtain hot, molten tar – this, despite the government itself asking people to stop burning plastics, rubber and other harmful materials – and a noisy rolling of the famous road-rollers which are invariably yellow in color for some reason that I’ve yet to fathom.
Why is the road being laid every year? Why can’t there be roads that withstand the hardships at least for three or four years? Why is the corporation so excited about laying the roads every year or at times, twice within an year? Why are the roads so weak and pothole ridden by the time the rains that batter them vanish?
These are some of the pressing questions that every household discusses every time one of the members of the household sees a road-roller or a fresh coating of tar road over the existing, damaged one. Luckily, an expert who’ll remain unnamed – for no other reason than the fact that there’s no such expert (which is because this is a work of fiction) – has the greatest answers revealed for us. Here they are for your perusal.
1. Why is the corporation laying roads every year? Doesn’t this show that the roads are quite weak and of inferior quality?
A: Well, that’s how the public sees it, but there is a huge process and good-will behind this phenomenon. By laying roads every year, we are creating such huge employment that is simply outstanding. Such measures are being lauded by the Centre and are therefore being followed every year without fail. This does not mean that the roads are weak – rather, it just means that we instruct the labourers, the supervisors and others in charge to lay roads that would peel off at the slightest instance of rain. These days, we want to make sure even a drizzle would be enough to scrape off the road so that more employment opportunities are created.
2. But then, doesn’t this post a very heavy budget every year?
A: Interestingly, yes it does cause a strain on budget but the sole motive is to make others earn money.
3. Earn money? You are referring to labourers and the workers employed?
A: Oh no no, of course not. They do earn a very meagre sum as wage – half of which returns back to us through our TASMAC shops. But the people I am referring to here is the officers and other white-collars. The constant laying and re-laying of roads means we need contracts. This means there’d be a huge cash flow. About 60% of this money goes for road-laying expenses and the rest is accounted as miscellaneous expense – which means, a car, a house, hot cash in suitcases and other things that the general public refers to as ‘bribe.’
4. Getting to the technical aspect – relaying roads over laid ones is an obviously bad idea. The right way, I guess, is to remove the old layer and then lay the new one. But why is the new road being relayed simply over an existing one?
A: This is really good question. But the answer to this is very important and critical so listen carefully. Firstly, as most people think, this is not because we want to siphon off large sums of money under miscellaneous expenses but because of two specific reasons: One, only such an idiotic relaying would ensure our first motive – that of being able to make the roads weak which in turn causes more employment opportunities. Two – and this is the most important one – is due to Global Warming.
6. Global Warming??
A: Yes! As strange as the connection sounds, the main idea is this: if we keep laying roads over old ones, sooner or later, the land levels would become higher than they presently are. At the current trend of global warming, sea levels are going to rise rapidly. Chennai, being a coastal city, runs the risk of being submerged, losing some of the land near the sea-shore and other such catastrophes. The only way to avoid this is by elevating the city’s altitude from mean sea level. This is why, each year, roads are laid over existing ones. We hope to make Chennai’s altitude at least 1250 metres by the end of 2020. So in a way, we are saving humanity from a catastrophe.
After that, and especially after that last statement, neither the “expert”, nor the guy who asked the questions were to be found. Apparently, the former has been allotted a room in a famous hospital in Kilpauk. The latter’s whereabouts still remain a mystery. Nevertheless, road-laying is in full effect this month for employment guarantee, miscellaneous expenses and avoiding the effects of global warming.
(This whole blogpost is pure fiction. Except the stupid facts that new roads are being laid over old ones, roads are weak and burning of rubber, none of the other things are to be taken as serious and true depictions of facts. And most importantly, the author is not to be held responsible for any factual errors, defamation and misrepresentation. photo-credits – here)