One thing that benefits the contractor-official-corporator nexus is digging and filling of trenches for laying utility cables.
The Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) will have you believe that roads being dug up are the prime reason for the condition of roads in the city. But this isn't the complete truth.
When a contractor makes a new road, the firm is supposed to maintain the road for a period of three to five years, depending on whether the road is made of asphalt or concrete, respectively.
In this period, the contractor will be liable to repair any defect completely free of cost. However, as soon as an utility company digs up the road, the contractor's liability ends. This means that he will have to repair the road, but the BMC will have to shell out the money.
Till recently, the civic body used to also appoint a contractor to fill these trenches. The more trenches he filled, the more he would earn.
Civic officials and corporators, who should be concerned about the quality of the reinstatement of trenches, would turn a blind eye and collude with these contractors in return of a share of the pie.
However, the BMC was forced to scrap the contracts after the contractors exhausted Rs 120 crore meant for two years of filling trenches in eight months.
Civic officials complain that utility companies often dig up freshly-laid roads, a grievance that has been proved true numerous times. Also these companies refuse to co-ordinate with the BMC over laying cables under the road surface.
"Once we wrote to the utility companies in that area asking them to carry out any work they had before we re-laid the roads. They woke up five months later and dug up a freshly done road" said an engineer from the western suburbs.
According to civic officials, before work begins on any road, the engineer in charge writes to all local utility companies asking them to carry out any work that is needed.
"But they seldom respond and then dig up roads after they have been laid," said another civic official.