In a hurry to stave off criticism and appease Mumbaiites frustrated with pothole-filled roads and bumper-to-bumper traffic, the civic body and state agencies are furiously filling up potholes across the city. What they are doing is a temporary solution that is likely to be washed away with the next heavy downpour.
When Hindustan Times published a report in its Wednesday edition on the pathetic state of Mumbai’s roads, the Brihan-mumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) and the Mumbai Metropolitan Region Develop-ment Authority (MMRDA), the two chief agencies that maintain city roads, started repair work.
At King’s Circle, outside the railway station, and on the Sion-Dharavi road, the BMC has used pieces of bricks to fill the potholes. On AK Marg, which connects Grant Road to Kemps Corner, the potholes have been filled with paver blocks. At Dadar (West), near the station, fine stones and tar have been used.
Experts said such repairs would offer respite for just a short while.
“The proper way to fill potholes is to geometrically cut the edges of the pothole, dry the pothole, fill it with ‘premix’ [tar and fine stones heated to a specified temperature] and then compact the area with a roller,” said Nandkumar Salvi, a former civic engineer. “The BMC is not following these specifications while filling potholes.”
The BMC admits repair work is not being done as it ought to. “Though it is not the proper way of filling potholes, we are trying to give quick relief to motorists,” said Aseem Gupta, additional municipal commissioner.
Another civic official accepted that these are short-term solutions. “The civic road department fills potholes with fine stones and tar without drying the patch. Sometimes they fill it with broken paver blocks, and that’s the wrong material,” the official said, on condition of anonymity as he is not authorised to speak to the media.
Till date, the BMC has spent Rs 26 crore of taxpayers’ money filling potholes, and it is likely to spend another Rs 8 crore to Rs 10 crore before the monsoon runs its course.
There is no supervision of the repair work being done. “There is no check on whether the potholes are being filled as per specifications. Unless the civic body takes action against erring contractors and officials, the situation will not improve,” Salvi said.
Gerson da Cunha, a member of NGO AGNI, said: “The BMC can spend taxpayers’ money on road repairs, but it should be done in the proper way. That is not happening. This is dishonesty to taxpayers.”