As part of its campaign to win the municipal elections in Kalyan-Dombivli Municipal Corporation (KDMC), Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) chief Raj Thackeray chose to highlight an issue that has the ruling Shiv Sena-BJP combine on the back foot — pothole-ridden roads.
Now, the saffron alliance, which is also the ruling party in Mumbai, doesn’t want potholes to be an election issue in the next Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation’s (BMC) elections in February 2012.
Hence, it has decided to double the road budget this year from Rs 500 crore to Rs 1,000 crore. Work is slated to begin from January 1, 2011.
“This year the civic administration has sanctioned Rs 500 crore for construction of new roads and resurfacing of bad roads,” said Rahul Shewale chairman of the civic standing committee, which has the authority to sanction the civic budget. “Takings stock of the state of the roads, we have decided to increase the budget to Rs 1,000 crore in the next fiscal so that maximum work is done.’
He denied that the additional budget was due to the upcoming civic polls. “We are doing it for the citizens,” Shewale claimed.
However, MNS leader in the BMC Mangesh Sangle said: “We will expose them [the ruling combine] before the Mumbai civic elections as they are trying to gain political mileage by increasing the road budget.”
About Rs 600 crore will be allocated to concretisation of roads in the city and suburbs, while Rs 300 crore will be spent on asphalting and laying paver blocks. Around Rs 100 crore will be kept for emergency work. The city’s road network spans across 1,900km, out of which 500km is concrete.
“Actually, we need Rs 1,500 crore budget for improving the roads, but got only Rs 500 crore,” said an official from the road department on condition of anonymity.
According to official data, the civic body has spent over Rs 56 crore to fill 14,242 pothole locations this year, while Rs 60 crore was budgeted for the whole year.
Thackeray had raised the issue of potholes during the election campaign in Kalyan-Dombivli. “The contractors will have to repair the roads free of cost if the road is damaged during guarantee period,” he had said while releasing the list of MNS candidates for the KDMC polls.
The MNS has come up as the second largest party in the KDMC with 27 of the total 107 seats.