Chief Minister Ashok Chavan’s sharp criticism of the state of the city’s roads has got Public Works Department Minister Chhagan Bhujbal, in charge of roads in the state, ordering his engineers to immediately begin repair work.
Two arterial roads – the Eastern and Western expressways –also come under the PWD. Repairs on bad stretches on both roads will now be taken up. Department officials have also been asked to monitor repairs done by contractors elsewhere in the state.
In a related development, Mayor Shraddha Jadhav said the civic body would first check
the quality of roads before releasing any funds to contractors.
Bhujbal said PWD engineers have been asked to apprise all contractors of their agreements. As per agreements between the PWD and toll collectors, they are supposed to maintain roads, which includes keeping them pothole free.
“After being told by our engineers, if they (contractors) still choose to sit on the directives, then the department will take action. For the period that the road is not repaired, they will be asked not to collect toll. It’s their loss,” Bhujbal said.
Bhujbal, also the state’s deputy chief minister, was, however, miffed with the recent criticism from Chavan and home minister R R Patil, who asked motorists to not pay toll if there were potholes on the roads.
He said this was not a new concept and agreements with road contractors clearly stated that they would have to maintain roads to collect toll.
He also said that both Chavan and Patil should put their own house in order before commenting on others departments.
He explained, “Road repairs are routinely done post monsoons. It’s not a new directive, but, yes, I have asked our engineers to monitor the repairs this year. Because of the 150 per cent monsoons, there has been more damage.”
He also said that in some cases, repairs might not have been possible because of the rains. “You need a dry spell to undertake repairs. Not just PWD, even BMC has not been able to repair roads in the city due to heavy rains,” Bhujbal said.
He added, “One can’t blame the toll culture. Four-laning of highways and widening of roads ensures you spend less on fuel. A part of this goes towards the toll.”
Mayor Jadhav said, “The administration should see the result of work done and only then sanction the additional amount to fill potholes.”
Municipal Commissioner Swadheen Kshatriya and Additional Municipal Commissioner Aseem Gupta were unavailable for comment.
‘Fix potholes on PWD roads too’
Shiv Sena leader Uddhav Thackeray spotted Krishanlal Marvah road, closed to Saki Naka, owned by the state government’s Public Works Department (PWD) was in bad shape, while he was on the round to see potholes on Friday midnight. He instructed civic officials to repair the road though it is owned by the state. “People should not suffer because of bad roads,” Thackeray said. He visited Kurla, Ghatkopar, Vikroli, Mulund, Chembur roads during his night visit.