Mumbai's monsoon audit: Roads get better, but miles to go

  • HT Correspondent, Hindustan Times, Mumbai
  • Updated: Jun 11, 2015 17:26 IST

Most stretches in Mumbai look rain-ready, but beneath the tarmac lurk problems like dug-up stretches, loose paver blocks; will our roads pass the monsoon test?

Eight hundred roads have been repaired, a majority of them ahead of the monsoon deadline. When HT’s panel of experts visited five important link roads, they found them in slightly better shape compared to last year.

On the surface, it looks like your ride will be better this monsoon, as the pile of complaints about bad roads from citizens year after year has got the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation to up its game this time around. But will the BMC’s quality of work pass the monsoon test?

Here are some problem areas HT’s audit found, which could translate into potholes and uneven stretches with one downpour: dislodged paver blocks near junctions, unfilled or shoddily reinstated trenches and uneven patches slapped across roads.

This is despite the Rs 1,200 crore spent on the asphalting and concretisation of the roads. Further, there has been no third-party audit of a majority of the road work despite BMC’s assurances — this means there have been no quality-checks.

On SV Road in Santacruz for instance, the dislodged paver blocks are forming deep craters, making the stretch prone to accidents. The road is uneven because of the number of manholes below the road level. On the Ghatkopar-Mankhurd link road, the service road has been neglected.

“While road repairs were done better this year and the newly-laid surfaces look good, the side strips are a worry. At some spots, paver blocks are sunken, this could lead to accidents and potholes. Footpaths need to be cleared of encroachments so that pedestrians can use them,” said V Ranganathan, former municipal commissioner.

Another serious problem the panel found was that stretches on the Andheri-Ghatkopar road were being dug up for utility purposes even after the pre-monsoon deadline of May 31. This stretch was given the lowest rating of the five roads HT’s panel surveyed. “The roads were being dug up just a week before our visit. This is a problem because the re-instatement will be done in haste,” said panel member SL Dhingra, a former professor with IIT-Bombay.

Experts also pointed to how Rs 23 crore, allotted by the BMC to resurface bad stretches, remains unused every year. “The BMC carries out pre-monsoon work every year. As the newly repaired roads do not need further resurfacing, the amount hasn’t been used,” said Rais Shaikh, SP corporator. “The quality of the roads will be tested only during the monsoon,” he said.

Ashok Pawar, chief engineer, roads and traffic department, said most roads were repaired and checks were going on. “We have got roads to such a state that Mumbaiites won’t face issues this time.”


Andheri-Ghatkopar Link Road

2015: 3.8/10
2014: 4.8/10

This is an important east-west connecter. It also has the Mumbai Metro running above it. But for several years, the road has been a shambles because of the construction of the metro corridor.

The audit found
Dislodged paver blocks at several locations, rampant illegal parking, uneven patches and potholes throughout the stretch. Road were being dug up for utilities even though the pre-monsoon deadline has passed.

What experts said
“How can the BMC allow digging of roads for utility purposes even after May 31, which was the deadline to complete road works? The entire stretch was dug up badly; paver blocks still exist on this road causing uneven patches and potholes at junctions. I don’t think the work will be completed before the monsoon.”
~ Rais Shaikh, corporator, Samajwadi Party


SV Road, Santacruz-Bandra

2015: 5.9/10
2014: 4.8/10

The SV road is an arterial stretch in the western suburbs that begins from Bandra and ends at Dahisar. Parts of the road are chronic flooding spots.

The audit found
The stretch from Santacruz to Khar was satisfactory, but there were a few bad patches of paver blocks, affecting the movement of traffic. Trenches were not reinstated properly. The side strips of the road needs repairs.

What experts said
“The condition of the road seems fine, but junctions are not at all in good condition, patch work on the road makes it uneven and slows down traffic. The side strips and paver blocks junctions are in bad condition.”
~ Rajkumar Sharma, citizen activist


Sion-Mahim Link Road

2015: 5.5/10
2014: 5/10

This is another east-west connector and sees heavy traffic during the peak hours.

The audit found
The road was in fairly good shape, but a portion has been closed for repair work that has been pending for few years. This is creating bottlenecks, as it makes the road narrow near the 90-feet road at Dharavi.

What experts said
“The road portion appeared to be fine, except for a few bad patches. The ongoing work on the road is affecting the traffic. Civic officials need to fix this immediately. There is illegal parking at some spots, which also needs attention as it seems to be affecting the road repair work.”
~ DK Pathak, retired engineer, storm water drains dept


Keshavsut Bridge, Dadar station

2015: 7/10
2014: 6.4/10

This flyover passes over the Dadar station and motorists from the eastern and western suburbs use it to reach commercial areas such as Elphinstone Road and Lower Parel. The bridge sees heavy traffic movement throughout the day.

The audit found
The shoddy work on the bridge has been criticised for years. But this year, HT’s panel has given it the highest rating among all the spots visited. There were certain bad patches, but the concretisation of the road, both the north and south bound stretches is fairly good.

What experts said
“The work done on the bridge is fine. The resurfacing has been done in a proper manner and levelling is better. Looking at the work, I hope during this monsoon, potholes will not appear.”
~ V Ranganathan, retired municipal commissioner


Ghatkopar-Mankhurd Link Road

2015: 5/10
2014: 5.6/10

The link road begins from the Eastern Express highway junction at Ghatkopar and leads to Mankhurd. It is an important stretch because it connects to the Eastern Freeway.

The audit found:

The service roads were pathetic. The concretisation of the road has been substandard, with bad patches across the stretch, particularly near the junction on the Eastern Express Highway

What experts said:
“As the road has been concretised, it looks better. But the service road and inner roads on either side are in bad shape. There are patches where the paver blocks have come out. This might create potholes and flooding during the monsoon.”
~ SL Dhingra, former professor, IIT-B


“If I go by the data, the complaints have dropped slightly, but the quality of roads has not improved much. The drop in complaints means the civic body is acting on citizens’ complaints on time. Roads have become better, but not world class.”
~ Milind Mhaske, Praja Foundation

"The BMC has carried out repair and reconstruction of so many roads in past year. Ironically, the quality of the roads is pathetic. It would not last more than two years, and potholes are certain to surface this monsoon also. A country like Sri Lanka has better footpaths and roads, so why can’t we make good quality roads?”
~ Godfrey Pimenta, Watchdog foundation

“While travelling to the suburbs, it is evident that the work on the roads has been ongoing. The roads do seem less bumpy this time. The quality of the roads will be tested during the monsoon. If it is good-quality work, we might see fewer potholes, else there will be potholes despite the crores spent.”
~ Nayana Kathpalia, Nayana Kathpalia, trustee, NAGAR NGO

“Paver blocks on SV Road have not been laid properly, which is a major concern, as the unevenness continues. The concretisation of the road, however, seems to be better this year compared to last year. Most of the roads in the suburbs were under repair and the work seems to be completed fast.”
~ Anandini Thakoor, chairman , H west federation


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