The Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) is under “statutory obligation to maintain and improve all the public roads and streets in the city” and cannot cite any “impediments to justify inaction”, the Bombay high court has held.
A bench led by Justice VM Kanade was hearing a plea filed by residents of Bharat Nagar in Bandra (east), claiming that the authorities had been neglecting Bharat Nagar Road that joins Bandra east to Bandra-Kurla Complex.
According to the plea, the BMC had refused to fix the pothole-ridden road despite repeated complaints since 2015.
The plea said that this year’s monsoons made the situation worse and even the “BEST buses had refused to ply on the stretch due to the potholes”, thus, causing much inconvenience to residents.
The BMC, meanwhile, told the court that the land on which the road was constructed belonged to the Maharashtra Housing and Area Development Authority (MHADA), which needs to repair the road.
The BMC’s counsel also told the court that it would undertake the repair work only if MHADA reimburses the corporation.
Initially, the MHADA had said that residents must take their dispute to the district collector, but following the HC intervention, it submitted that the BMC would be reimbursed for the work.
At this, the bench directed the corporation to complete the repair work within the next four months.
It, however, reminded the corporation that it was bound by the provisions of its “own Act to maintain the said stretch as well as all other roads in the city.”
“It is a matter of common knowledge that due to the heavy monsoon this year, practically all the roads in Mumbai have been damaged and potholes have surfaced on every arterial road. This has even resulted in the death of a few people. The corporation is under the statutory obligation, under Section 61 of the Mumbai Municipal Corporation Act, to maintain and improve all public roads and public streets,” the bench said.
“It is a settled position in law that by virtue of the constitutional provisions, the power conferred upon the corporation cannot be transferred to any other body,” it said.
The bench also said that though it had set an outer limit of four months, the corporation must complete the work “as quickly as possible”, and that it must also repair all other roads in the city that are damaged to “ensure that the situation which has occurred on account of heavy monsoon in this year, will not occur in the future.”