The lack of quality work and supervision are primarily responsible for the sorry state of the city’s roads, Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan told Hindustan Times on Friday, adding that the problem is with the authorities involved and has to be resolved at that end.
The government is likely to rework the roads policy to bring about changes in organisational accountability, rules for appointing contractors, road designs and is planning for more bitumen mix plants, an official said.
Chavan admitted that all is not fine with the way road contracts are being assigned. “I agree there is a group of contractors - I wouldn’t call it a cartel - that bids for these contracts and gets them. And they bid low to bag the project, leading to poor quality.”
The CM is intent on first working out the problems involving authorities such as improving supervision and introducing stringent technical testing to check the quality of materials used.
Chavan also wants experts to tell the government whether the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) needs to upgrade the technology used to build roads.
Experts said the technical specifications for the construction of roads, laid down by the state-appointed Standard Technical Advisory Committee, are stringent. The problem lies in poor implementation of these specifications because of lack of supervision and inspection.
“We have told the civic chief that the STAC guidelines have been with the BMC for years and that it should implement them as soon as possible,” said NV Merani, chairman of the STAC, after a meeting with municipal commissioner Subodh Kumar on Friday.
The CM has called a meeting on Saturday that includes the BMC chief, MMRDA commissioner Rahul Asthana, some IIT road experts and senior civic officials. “There will be a serious rethink on the material used to lay roads, among other issues, as the technologies used till date have not worked,” an official said, requesting anonymity.
On Thursday, Mumbai suburban guardian minister Naseem Khan issued a 48-hour deadline to fill all potholes in the city. However, Khan admits that these patch-up jobs are a temporary solution and the problems lie elsewhere.
City guardian minister Jayant Patil said the nexus between contractors and BMC officials needs to be broken. “Contractors come back despite being blacklisted in other names. This needs to be stopped,” Patil said.