The next time you bemoan the condition of Mumbai’s roads when your car hits a pothole, think about this: not only has the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) failed year on year to tackle potholes effectively, it has awarded a contract worth almost Rs 13 crore for the repair of 12 roads that are in good condition.
What makes this even more galling is the fact the municipal commissioner Ajoy Mehta recently cancelled the planned repairs of 153 roads after they were found to be perfectly serviceable.
Worse still, according to a BMC source, the 12 good roads will be relaid with the very paver blocks that the civic body has decided to phase out because of poor quality.
HT has identified a few internal roads in Kurla, Powai and Ghatkopar that are among 12 for which the BMC awarded a Rs 12.85-crore repairing contract to a firm in May. These include Gopal Morya Marg and Muktadevi Mandir Marg in Kurla, Tunga village internal road in Powai, and Laxmi Narayan Mandir Road in Ghatkopar.
These roads were last repaired between two and three years ago. As they do not see heavy traffic, they remain in good condition save for a few patches, which could be improved with minor repairs.
Another source said, “These are not very important roads from the point of view of traffic. This is just one example of the nexus between BMC officials and contractors. Along with the eastern suburbs, there are roads in south Mumbai and the western suburbs that are going to be repaired needlessly. Some of roads were selected for repairs under pressure from corporators, who have one eye on the upcoming civic elections.”
Contracts like these raise the question — again — of how exactly the BMC decides which of Mumbai’s roads need repairs.
Recently, Mehta cancelled the proposed repair or reconstruction of 153 of 840 roads after finding ‘manipulations’ in the proposed list.
He ordered a review of all the proposals, which found many good roads were included in the list.
Devendra Amberkar, leader of the opposition in the BMC, said, “The civic body is wasting public money for the benefit of contractors and officials. They should use this money to repair
roads that are in bad shape. Because the Shiv Sena and BJP defend such contractors and officials, we get poor-quality roads. I will write a letter to the commissioner on the issue and demand action against the guilty.”
Citizen activist Nikhil Desai also criticised slammed the BMC for not conducting the necessary checks before awarding the contract.
“The Rs 12.85 crore could instead have been used to strengthen infrastructure at civic schools, build more public toilets and develop open sp aces,” he said.
“We will examine the tender and condition of roads and then decide the steps to be taken,” Ajoy Mehta, municipal commissioner said