A government-appointed panel of experts has disapproved of the way the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) has been handling pothole repairs.
The Standing Technical Advisory Committee ticked off the BMC for carrying out pothole repairs at the ward-level. The BMC not only exhausted its Rs 40-crore budget for filling potholes within five months, it is now spending another Rs 20 crore on the work.
The committee members said the work should be given to a central agency, as was the case three years ago, to maintain a better technical control. The agency looked after major roads and came directly under the civic Road Department.
Three years ago, the BMC shifted the responsibility to the ward offices after the agency found it difficult to monitor and execute the work.
Earlier, the agency would appoint contractors, allot money and inspect roads.
Now, it’s the ward officer or assistant road engineer ward who appoints contractors, allots money and suggests methods for filling potholes. The methods used can vary from ward to ward.
The committee members visited key roads such as the Andheri-Kurla Road, Sahar Road, Babasaheb Ambedkar Road from Sion to Wadala, GD Ambekar Marg, Slater Road and Dr SS Rao Road on Friday.
“We will ask the BMC to reintroduce the centralised system. It will help bring uniformity to the methods used to fill potholes,” said committee chairman NV Merani.
At Slater Road, the committee found that crushed paver blocks were used to fill potholes. “Ward officials said it was done to ensure the work was completed before the Ganesh festival began. Such methods are of no use,” said Merani.
Another committee member said on condition of anonymity that contractors appointed by ward officers were not adhering to the guidelines issued by the committee to fill potholes. This resulted in shoddy work.
“If one ward engineer is careless and doesn’t check the material used, then the entire exercise is rendered useless as the surface won’t last long,” said the committee member.
He added that there should be better monitoring of funds utilised for filling potholes, which is not possible in a decentralised process. Such a process also increases the chances of misuse of funds.