The Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation’s (BMC) R North ward office has spent Rs 16,259 on every pothole in the ward, irrespective of its size.
This is what data obtained from the ward office, which governs most parts of Borivli and Dahisar, revealed.
Civic activists have criticised the expenditure incurred on filling potholes in the city saying the BMC has spent more than required.
Activist Raja Bunch, who obtained this information through a query filed under the Right To Information Act, found that 546 potholes were repaired in R North this year, before and during the monsoon. These repairs, the BMC said, cost Rs 88.7 lakh.
“These figures show how public money is being wasted and we, the taxpayers, are being taken for a ride,” Bunch said.
Parag Masurkar, assistant municipal commissioner, R North, said, “There are some roads in the ward that are in very bad shape. Along with these, there are also roads that witness heavy traffic and hence need repairs.”
Lashing out the civic body for such “exaggerated costs”, N.V. Merani, chairman of the state-appointed Standing Technical Advisory Committee, said: “The cost of filing every pothole is hugely excessive and beyond advisable costs. We had noticed that in the name of filing potholes, the BMC simply lined potholed roads with paver blocks, making them worse.”
Additional Municipal Commissioner Aseem Gupta said the area of potholes filled should be considered.
“Since there is no fixed definition of a pothole, officials often count four or five potholes as one. Hence, such works give the impression of being costly,” Gupta said.
Merani was not convinced. “Even though there is no fixed definition of a pothole in terms of its size, spending more than Rs 16,000 on repairing one pothole is undoubtedly excessive.”
A civic contractor, requesting anonymity because he is not authorised to speak to the media, said, “Most contractors cut costs on work done on potholes, but charge the BMC hefty sums. The quality of work is usually tardy and ward officials know this.”