Eight department heads in less than five years. It’s no wonder that the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation’s roads department can’t do a better job maintaining the city’s roads.
Experts said the cavalier attitude of the BMC’s top officials — the person in charge barely gets the time and chance to do anything before she or he gets transferred — is one of the big reasons for the sorry state of roads in the city. A week ago, HT launched its campaign on Mumbai’s pothole-filled roads.
Since November 2006, the department has seen seven chief engineers, six of whom held the post for less than a year. It gets worse: Six of the seven chief engineers appointed to head the roads department were about to retire.
The eighth chief engineer took charge a little over a month ago. “A chief engineer heads the roads department for an average of 8-10 months. Of this, the first two months are spent understanding the department’s functioning. By the time he understands what needs to be done, he retires or gets transferred,” a civic official said, requesting anonymity.
Usually, a civic officer holds a post for a maximum period of three years, after which there’s a transfer.
The BMC has continued with such random appointments and transfers despite recommendations from both the Standing Technical Advisory Committee and the high court-appointed Road Monitoring Committee (RMC) that the chief engineer for roads should get more time to concentrate and complete work.
“The RMC has suggested that the department head have reasonable time to do good work before retirement. But that’s not happening and it’s affecting the quality of roads,” said Nandkumar Salvi, a member of the RMC, which submitted its report to the high court in 2006-07.
“Many officials are disinterested if they are there for a short period and are just waiting to retire,” said Rahul Shewale, chairman, civic standing committee.
DD Naik, a former chief engineer who was with the roads department in 2002-3, said the chief engineer plays a key role in the maintenance of roads. “He should be on the roads at night when pothole repairs begin and guide his juniors about specifications and use of material. This will help get good results,” Naik said.
The municipal commissioner approves posts and transfers on the basis of recommendations made by the additional municipal commissioner who heads the department.
Aseem Gupta, additional municipal commissioner (roads), was not available for comment.