After having slashed fines on roads department engineers from Rs1 crore to Rs8.3 lakh, the civic body now wants to fine other departments for delaying pothole repairs. The Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation also plans to fine officials from various wards for unattended potholes on roads they maintain.
Major roads in the city are maintained by the roads department, the central agency for road repairs and road works. But several others are the responsibility of other civic departments, which are carrying out civic projects on these roads. These departments, while not directly in charge of maintenance, have contractors responsible for repair works.
The civic body is now planning to impose penalties on engineers from other departments delaying pothole repairs. Unattended potholes on these roads have been marked by the BMC’s pothole tracking system (see box).
Additional municipal commissioner Aseem Gupta said, “There has obviously been a delay in filling potholes during monsoons and hence, we need to fix the responsibility on officials who delayed it. Hence, we have now started sending letters to other departments, asking their engineers to explain the delay in filling potholes on their roads, or face a fine. We will now look at potholes which weren't filled in 5 days of being reported and then track down officials responsible for it.”
Officials from the road department hinted at a nexus between contractors who maintain these roads, and the departments concerned. “As these contractors are in charge of filling the trenches and not directly paid for upkeep of the roads, many officials in those departments collude with them and don’t hold the contractor responsible for filling the potholes,” said a source in the roads department.
Maintenance of such roads is covered under the defect liability period (DLP), a system under which the contractor would have to repair the pothole at his own cost. “Thus, officials often benefit the contractor by not making him fill the potholes,” added the source.
GM Aggarwal, chief engineer of the roads department, said that they had started the process of sending out letters to different departments to explain the delay in filling potholes.