New Delhi, Mar 17 (ILNS) The Supreme Court today issued a notice to the Centre, asking whether common utility ducts should be laid along the highways, so as to avoid re-digging.
Utility duct is a passage built underground or above the ground that houses utility lines for electricity, water supply, sewer functions and communication lines like optical fibre, telephone cables and cable television.
The bench of Chief Justice SA Bobde and Justices AS Bopanna and V Ramasubramanian said, “We will hear this. It is a good idea.” The Court fixed the matter to be heard after four weeks.
The petition, filed by Bhubaneswar-based Haripriya Patel through Advocate-On-Record Anirudh Sanganeria, sought directions to the government to ensure that all public utility service providers mandatorily use the facilities and avoid unnecessary re-digging/trenching of roadways.
“The authorities must provide for common utility corridors along the highways for all utilities in the construction plan of large infrastructure,” it said.
The common ducts will prevent accidents leading to deaths and also avoid duplication of civil works for various essential public services, thus saving public funds. They will also result in real-time highway traffic management and uninterrupted telecom networks, added the petitioner.
The proposal for common utility ducts has been under consideration since 2002, but yet to be approved due to lack of coordination between the government ministries, the PIL added.
The petitioner also sought implementation of the November 22, 2016 guidelines issued by the Ministry of Road Transport and Highways (MoRTH) and the National Digital Communications Policy 2018, making the construction of utility ducts mandatory in highway projects.
It said the cost of laying Fibre Optic Cables by re-digging and duplicating the road is around Rs 2.25 crore for 100 km. This hefty expense could be saved by providing constructed pit along the roads. These pits can be constructed by the road authorities without extra/minimal/negligible expenditure at the time of construction of the road itself and the optical fiber cable can be pulled/laid through it.
By this way, a huge amount of money can be saved, which the government can utilise for other public works such as education, health and other benevolent works and also generate additional revenue by levy of annual fee from the telecom operators. In addition to it, the day-to-day maintenance expenditure of cable maintenance due to continuous road expansion and other ancillary work can be reduced to a large extent, added the plea.
It also mentioned that the economic ramifications of duplication of civil work and damage to roadways on account of re-digging and trenching is not considered, which account for substantial loss of public money. ILNS/JR