Despite the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) catching the contractors, who were responsible for substandard road work, it has not resulted into better and pothole-free roads. While the contractors are facing police action, Mumbaiites are forced to ride on shoddy roads as there is no upkeep or maintenance done by these contractors named under the scam.
HT visited some of the 34 roads inspected in the first phase of the road inquiry. The status of these roads is as appalling as it was mentioned in the probe report. Many of these roads have developed potholes while in some cases the upper crust is washed away leaving uneven roads, loosened paver blocks from the side strips.
For instance, the CST Road that runs between Santacruz (East) and Kurla, and connects Santacruz-Chembur Link Road (SCLR), is full of craters which slows down the traffic as soon as one alights from the link road leading to a bottleneck and chaos every day.
Despite existence of guidelines for pothole filling, temporary filling of potholes by unapproved material is underway. Many spots on the CST Road and Hans Bhurga Marg in Santacruz (East), which were inspected during inquiry are filled with paver blocks, which, activists say, are the main reason behind repeated accidents. “When paver blocks are used to fill potholes, the road becomes uneven and bikers skid and also loose balance leading to accidents,” said James John, coordinator, AGNI, an NGO.
The discrepancies and the shoddy work is not new to BMC and after the probe it was clear that the citizens will face bumpy ride this year. But many expected that after tainted contractors are booked, the conditions of the roads will improve. Instead, the contractors are not even tending to the roads that are under the free maintenance period or the defect liability period (DLP). At present, the defect liability period is for five years for concrete roads and in this period a contractor is responsible for maintenance of the roads.
The 16 blacklisted contractors will not be able to bid for new projects. However, these erring contractors will only repair/reconstruct the 234 roads that were probed and found substandard. “Do we have any other option? As per the tender conditions these contractors who are booked for shoddy work on 234 roads will have to reconstruct/repair these roads,” said a civic official on condition of anonymity.