Coming down heavily on government agencies for the pathetic condition of roads in the Mumbai Metropolitan Region (MMR), the Bombay high court on Monday questioned the process of awarding road contracts and issued notices to the civic bodies of Mumbai, Thane and Navi Mumbai as well as the state government.
HT has been reporting consistently on the problems, malpractices and corruption that have affected the quality of our city’s roads. Less than two months after the monsoon arrived, Mumbai’s roads already have more than 16,000 potholes — and there are two more months of the season to go.
There need to be long-lasting solutions to prevent potholes, the division bench of chief justice Mohit Shah and justice MS Sanklecha said while taking suo motu cognisance of the matter.
The court said it would examine six issues pertaining to the construction and repair of roads in MMR, including why the BMC and TMC award road contracts to the lowest bidder instead of to the bidder offering the best quality, how the competence and credentials of contractors are checked, what steps civic bodies take to examine the quality of technology and material used for construction and repairs, and whether the execution of work is being supervised satisfactorily.
The bench also issued notices to the Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority (MMRDA), Maharashtra State Road Development Corporation (MSRDC), Mumbai Port Trust (MbPT) and Central Road Research Institute.
The suo motu proceeding was initiated in response to a note sent by another judge, Justice Gautam Patel, to the chief justice on July 24, highlighting the dismal condition of roads and the large number of potholes in and around Mumbai. The bench noted that newspaper reports, on the basis of which the note was prepared, clearly indicate that patchwork repairs have been unsuccessful.
HT has repeatedly highlighted the poor quality of repair work, the need for more transparency while awarding road contracts, the contractor-politician-official nexus that has affected the quality of roads, the need for external audits, among other issues.
Chief secretary JK Banthia, MMRDA chief UPS Madan and additional municipal commissioner SVR Srinivas said they could not comment on the court directive before going through the details.