The Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) that was under fire in the last monsoon session for the pathetic condition of roads in the city received support from an unexpected quarter on Tuesday.
Chief minister Prithiviraj Chavan, who had called an emergency meeting after protests from various quarters over the poor state of roads in Mumbai in that session, said the situation was better. He also sought to justify the civic body’s decision to award Rs550 crore road construction contracts to firms that had earlier been penalised for a shoddy job.
The work to prevent potholes on Mumbai’s roads had been taken up before the onset of monsoon and as such there were few potholes on city’s roads, chief minister Chavan said in written reply in the assembly on Tuesday, leaving the Congress legislators surprised.
Congress legislators Amin Patel, Madhu Chavan and others including NCP MLAs had raised the issue by way of starred question in the assembly. They had sought government’s view on bad state of roads around September. The legislators had also raised the issue of contractors, who had been penalised earlier for shoddy work, being awarded road construction contracts this year again.
Chavan in his reply said that eight out of nine contractors had been penalised earlier. However, they were given road construction contract worth Rs550 crore this time around as they were not blacklisted. Chavan also said the civic body had undertaken concretisation of roads that frequently develop potholes. Independent advisors had been appointed to maintain quality of roads and supervise road construction work, he added.
Significantly, Chavan had pulled up the civic body for pothole-ridden roads in the city and had announced several measures to improve the situation.
The civic body’s data showed there were 6,000 pothole-locations on Mumbai’s roads in July.
The roads and flyover bridges looked after by the BMC as well as the public works department and other state government agencies had developed potholes during the monsoon resulting in traffic snarls across the city.
“We want an independent enquiry into the contracts. People need to know why Rs550 crore contracts were given to eight contractors, who had been fined for doing a shoddy job in the past,” said Patel.