It’s the same old story: brace yourself for a bumpy ride again this monsoon. By the end of its self-imposed May 31 deadline, the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) has barely completed 50% of repair and construction work on minor roads.
Though senior civic officials were tight-lipped, HT has learnt that work has been completed on just 147 minor roads (less than 30 feet wide) out of the targetted 275.
The eastern suburbs will be the worst hit if the work does not pick up pace before the first showers, as only 43 minor roads out of a targetted 160 in these areas have been taken up for repairs. In the western suburbs and city, the BMC has completed work on 49 and 55 minor roads, respectively, out of a targetted 45 and 70.
The civic body had decided to undertake repairs on 183 major roads (concretisation of 58 and asphalting of 125) and asphalting of 275 minor roads, before May 31. A budget of Rs. 549 crore was allocated for major roads, and Rs. 375 crore for minor roads. In its budget for 2012-13, the BMC has made a provision of Rs. 1,466 crore for roads. In comparison, the budget provision for roads in 2011-12 was Rs. 713 crore.
According to sources, out of 183 major roads, the administration has completed work on the concretisation of 31 roads and asphalting of 92 roads.
So, why has the May 31 deadline not been met?
Civic officials blame the water pipeline work and slums. “At several areas the hydraulic department had undertaken work to install new water pipelines, which is incomplete. Work to install sewerage lines and drains is also pending, which has led to a delay in construction of major roads. Besides, road-widening has been held up in some places as slumdwellers are yet to be relocated,” said an official.
Ravindra Ghodke, chief engineer, roads, traffic and bridges, had given an assurance a week ago that the May 31 deadline would be met. When contacted on the day the deadline ended, he told HT the civic body was working hard and would give the best possible result before the rains. “If any work remains, it will be completed after the monsoon,” he said.
According to sources, the target of completing 275 minor roads was never likely to be completed, considering the work started very late (end-February) since the code of conduct for the BMC elections was in place. “In addition, there are several cases where the work done was not approved by a third-party auditor, so we had to re-do it,” said an official.
The opposition parties have slammed the Shiv Sena-Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) alliance, which is in power in the BMC. “Where has all the money gone? With a budget of around Rs. 900 crore, the ruling alliance should explain why the work is still pending,” said Dyanraj Nikam, leader of opposition in the BMC.