While the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) has received well-deserved flak for the state of city’s roads, it is not the only government agency responsible for your bone-rattling commute. The shambolic Western Express Highway (WEH) and Eastern Express highway (EEH), which connect south and central Mumbai to suburbs in the east and west, are the responsibility of agencies other than the BMC – the Maharashtra State Road Development Corporation (MSRDC), Public Works Department (PWD) and Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority (MMRDA). These three agencies function out of sync and seem to have just one this in common – passing the buck.
HT took a ride down both highways on Sunday and found that the WEH is in far worse shape that the EEH, and responsible for the city’s worst commutes.
While PWD is responsible for maintaining the entire highway, the 12 flyovers on it are the responsibility of PWD and MSRDC. However, the picture isn’t that simple. Their opaque workings and lack of co-ordination makes it difficult to know who is responsible for a particular stretch at any given time, and thus fix liability. A galling example of their lack of co-ordination is the Dindoshi flyover. Thanks to poor planning, PWD is responsible for maintaining one side of it while MSRDC is responsible for the other.
MSRDC officials were quick to wash their hands of the problem, saying Mumbai Entry Point Limited (MEPL), which collects toll at five city toll plazas, is supposed to maintain the flyovers and fix potholes in them.
MSRDC chief engineer DN Salunkhe said, “Although MEPL is supposed to repair potholes, we monitor the flyovers under our jurisdiction regularly to ensure no potholes remains unattended by MEPL.”
MMRDA built three flyovers on the WEH but their maintenance was handed over to the PWD this year.
PWD officials, meanwhile, blamed the rains. PWD secretary SB Tamsekar said, “We have deployed a few squads that fix potholes as soon as they are reported. However, it is difficult to stop them from reappearing because of heavy rains. Once the rains are over, we will repair the entire highway. We expect this will be done by October 14.”
Although special teams have been set up to repair potholes, the highway has remained in poor condition through the monsoon as none of them has followed guidelines framed by the Standing Technical Advisory Committee (STAC), comprising road experts, which the Bombay High Court appointed in 2006.
STAC had submitted 79 recommendations, including detailed guidelines on building, maintaining and repairing roads. One of its main recommendations was that all road work be completed by May 10 every year, to allow one month for repairs to take hold and prevent water from percolating.
Nandkumar Salvi, a member of the committee, said, “In the high court, all concerned agencies said they were ready to accept the guidelines. However, none has followed them properly. If this is the case, we cannot expect roads to remain intact even if they bring in best materials to fix potholes.”
Western Express Highway
• The majority of the highway is under the purview of the Public Works Department (PWD)
• The Maharashtra State Road Development Corporation (MSRDC) maintains five of its 12 flyovers
• The Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority built three of the flyovers and this year handed over their upkeep to PWD
Eastern Express Highway
• The majority of the Eastern Expressway is under the purview of the PWD
• All six flyovers, except the Kurla flyover, are under the purview of MSRDC
Six shambolic stretches, courtesy PWD
HT took a ride down the Western Express Highway on Sunday and found that while some potholes have been fixed, major problems persist, especially towards the northern end. Here are six nightmarish stretches under the jurisdiction of the public works department
Flyover near Gokulanand Hotel, Dahisar
What HT found: Despite repairs, potholes have reappeared on this flyover as the materials used to fill them in were washed away in last week’s downpour.
Before Thakur complex flyover, Kandivli
What HT found: The south-bound stretch of the highway is badly worn out and cars move slowly thanks to the use of cold-mix filler to fix potholes.
Near Pushpa Park, Malad
What HT found: This important approach road for commuters travelling to Borivali was pothole-ridden because of poor maintenance during the monsoon.
Goregaon junction, under Oberoi Mall flyover
What HT found: The road, which was filled in temporarily for Ganeshotsav, is in bad shape once again, causing problems for people travelling towards Malad.
What HT found: Bumpy rides are guaranteed on this flyover which is littered with potholes.
Vile Parle to Andheri
What HT found: On the north-bound, towards Borivli, a large crater has been fixed temporarily with paver-blocks, making the ride uneven and bumpy. Gravels and stones used to repair them were washed away in heavy rains last week.