Realising that it cannot continue to ignore public outcry over the sorry state of Mumbai’s roads, the state government on Thursday ordered agencies responsible to fill all potholes within 48 hours.
The government is also thinking of long-term solutions and is planning to change the way road contracts are assigned.
“It’s sad that the chief minister has had to intervene to ensure the municipal corporation does its basic work. He is contemplating a systemic change in the way road contracts are given. He also wants to pin the responsibility of the state of the roads on civic officials in charge of them,” said a senior official from the Chief Minister’s Office, on condition of anonymity. “The CM is likely to get experts to conduct a road audit.”
HT first brought the state of the city’s roads this monsoon to public notice.
CM Prithviraj Chavan is likely to ask civic chief Subodh Kumar to get involved and take action — charge penalties — against contractors behind the bad work, the official said.
The Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC), the Mumbai Metropolitan Region Develop-ment Authority (MMRDA) and the state public works department will now have to perform the miraculous task of making the city pothole-free within 48 hours.
Meeting the deadline is near impossible as to fill potholes it needs to stop raining. The BMC also does not have the capacity to produce and transport hot-mix asphalt to fill all the potholes within 48 hours.
Besides, laying roads with asphalt will need those stretches to be blocked off for several hours. There are 694 pothole locations on 1,900 km of civic roads and all of them cannot be cordoned off without precipitating a traffic problem.
Naseem Khan, guardian minister, suburbs, issued the 48-hour deadline at a meeting in Vidhan Bhavan.
“We will need a dry spell of four to five days to ensure the potholes are filled. We have set a deadline of Sunday evening,” said Aseem Gupta, additional municipal commissioner (roads).
Chavan will meet Kumar, MMRDA commissioner Rahul Asthana, other officials and IIT engineers to thrash out a long-term solution to the pothole issue on Friday or Saturday.