The Bombay high court has asked the city civic body to bring its departments together and come up with ways to make better, more lasting repairs of potholes across roads in Mumbai.
The court even set a date for this meeting — January 5 — that is to be attended by senior officials from the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC), MMRDA, PWD, MSRDC and the Mumbai Port Trust, to “ensure potholes do not reappear every monsoon season”.
A bench of justice Shantanu Kemkar and justice PD Naik observed in a recent order the primary reason for potholes resurfacing every monsoon, despite the BMC’s claims of carried out extensive repair work, seemed to be that the civic body was “using substandard material for repair work and was repeatedly spending huge amounts of money to benefit contractors”.
The bench said the meeting must be attended by officials “not below the rank of Executive Engineer” and that the corporation must file a “compliance report and details of the decisions taken in the meeting by February 17, 2017”.
The bench also asked all stakeholders to let go of their “attitude of passing the buck”. Instead, “ensure compliance” of the court’s various orders on the issue, it said.
On the next date of hearing, the PWD has also been directed to submit a separate reply about the steps that can be taken to repair potholes and damages on the Western Express Highway and to fix a deadline for repair work there. The directions came while the bench was hearing a suo moto Public Interest Litigation on the poor condition of roads in Mumbai and the BMC’s failure to prevent potholes every monsoon.
During the last hearing on October 25, 2016, the BMC claimed all roads in the city would become pothole free by October 31 that year. The corporation, however, failed to keep its word. The bench then directed it to conduct the meeting and file the compliance report.
For more than a year now, the high court has been following up with the BMC to ensure Mumbai’s roads are pothole-free.
On the last hearing, the bench directed the BMC to not just rely on road repair material used by its contractors, but to procure “good material and seek the help of experts from IIT, Central Road Research Institute and the Indian Road Congress”.
The bench also suggested the corporation consults the civic authorities of other states in the country that get heavy rain. The HC is likely to take up the matter for further hearing on February 27.