If the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) had taken the suggestions of the technical committee seriously, the ongoing pothole troubles would have been reduced.
In 2010, the state government-appointed standing technical advisory committee (STAC) - that monitors the road work - had disapproved the civic administration’s decision of carrying out the pothole-filling exercise at the ward levels. The committee had suggested handing over the work of repairing potholes to a central agency – the road department of the civic body— for uniformity and a better technical control over the work.
The STAC was formed by the civic body after the state government’s directives to the BMC to work out guidelines for constructing roads and a maintenance system in the wake of poor roads and menace of potholes. It has technical experts from reputed institutions like IIT-Bombay.
However, some of the committee members quit after regular meetings of the STAC were stopped by the civic body. On May 9, HT had reported how the civic administration had stopped taking meetings in an attempt to silence the committee.
In 2010, after the committee’s suggestions, the civic body had given the responsibility of maintaining the roads and filling potholes to a central agency. However, in 2013, citing the overburden of work and difficulty to monitor and execute the exercise, the BMC again shifted the responsibility on the 24 administrative wards.
The roads department is the central agency, which looks after the major roads in the city including reconstruction and repair works. Considering lack of expertise, the technical knowledge and enough staff the committee had warned not to shift pothole-filling work on local wards.
Recently, a letter written by ward officer of G-north (Dadar, Shivaji Park) highlighted the same problem –suggested by STAC-- of not having any standard operating procedure (SOP) and technical expertise with ward staff in filling potholes which is leading to it resurfacing.
The letter also pointed that the substandard material and lack of expertise was hampering the whole exercise of fixing potholes.
A senior member of STAC said, “Contractors and ward-level staff were not adhering to the recommendations issued by the committee to fix the potholes, which is resulting in shoddy work.”
If the engineer of the ward is careless and doesn’t check the material used for filling the potholes, then the entire efforts will be proved useless as the surface will come out, he pointed out.
“If one engineer of ward is careless and doesn’t supervise the material used for filling the potholes, then the entire exercise will be rendered useless as the surface won’t stay for long,” said a members of the committee requesting anonymity.
Citizens are demanding a centralised system for better road repairs and monitoring. Activist from Matunga, Nikhil Desai said, “Filling potholes with centralised mechanism will have better impact as the officials from road department have technical know-how and can do the job in a better way.”
NV Mirani, former chairman of STAC, who was involved in drafting the report, said, “The pothole repair work should be done by the central agency, which is the roads department, so that the complaints are attended faster. The ward engineers have other local issues to handle thus there is a delay in fixing potholes and that is why we had suggested not to give repair works to ward level.”