Maximum pothole complaints reported from Western suburbs: BMC data

Published on Aug 19, 2022 12:10 AM IST

The incident took place at a carriageway flyover on the WEH opposite the Sanjay Gandhi National Park (SGNP).

The spot where the Andheri couple died on Wednesday (Vijay Bate/HT Photo)
The spot where the Andheri couple died on Wednesday (Vijay Bate/HT Photo)

Mumbai: A day after a couple lost their lives in a road accident on the Western Express Highway (WEH) in Borivali, the data from Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) showed that nearly 48% of the total pothole-related complaints have been raised from the Mumbai’s western suburbs this year. On Wednesday, Nizamuddin Noor Mohammad Shah (39), who worked in the creative department of a television serial unit, and his wife Chaya Killari (38), a make-up artist in the same unit, lost their lives after a dumper mowed them over.

The incident took place at a carriageway flyover on the WEH opposite the Sanjay Gandhi National Park (SGNP). The preliminary investigation, as per Mumbai Police officers, suggests that the couple who was on a two-wheeler could be overtaking the dumper from the left side and might have slipped either while trying to dodge potholes or due to the slippery surface of the road.

The BMC has pointed out that the responsibility for the maintenance of the flyover where the incident took place is with the Maharashtra State Road Development Corporation (MSRDC). “The WEH is being maintained by MSRDC and Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority (MMRDA). The WEH along with the adjoining service road is infamous for potholes, however, it’s not BMC’s responsibility to maintain them. Whenever we receive any complaint we forward it to the responsible agencies,” said Nivrutti Gondhali, assistant municipal commissioner.

What does the app say?

On the BMC’s Pothole Fixit application, a total of 1,135 pothole-related complaints have been raised between April 1, 2022, and August 18, 2022 (10:30 am). Out of which 546 complaints or 48% are reported from the western suburbs, 242 or 21% are reported from the island city, while 189 or 17% of the potholes are reported from the eastern suburbs. The civic body data also states that out of the 1,135 potholes reported so far, only 401 have been closed or filled, while 231 have been flagged as non-existent or as fake complaints.

Shantanu Kulkarni, director of Probity Software Private Limited, which operates the Pothole Fixit app, said, “The scientific reason why complaints are higher in the western suburbs is because of the topography. The Storm Water Drain (SWD) network is also not evenly spread there due to which the water flow is uneven. Additionally, the vehicle density in the western suburbs is also higher than the rest of Mumbai -- a factor that has a direct relationship with the pothole menace.”

He also maintained that this year, the number of pothole-related complaints in Mumbai is less than what it was five years back. The Pothole Fixit application has been operational since 2011. However, it was discontinued between 2016-19 during municipal commissioner Ajoy Mehta’s tenure and later reinstated in 2020 during the pandemic outbreak.

“With time the number of concrete roads in Mumbai has increased. Earlier there was also no mechanism to track trenching works which affects the road quality. Now the BMC has come up with several new methodologies which have helped in tackling pothole menace with time,” he said.

BMC speak

The BMC roads department stated that to date around 22,000 pothole-related complaints have been reported in Mumbai between April 1 and August 18 in all the available platforms and complaint register system that it has and out of which, around 11,000 potholes or 50% were filled in one month alone (between July and August). Besides the MyBMC Pothole Fixit app, the BMC records pothole-related complaints on its Twitter handle, disaster management hotline and BMC civic helpline.

“Unless the roads of Mumbai are concretised, the issue of potholes will not be solved. Five years back we used to record 30,000-40,000 complaints every year. Now the numbers have come down and this was only possible by concretisation,” said a senior official from the roads department.

Activists speak

Activists blamed the administration for shoddy road works. Activist Mushtaque Ansari, who runs the popular Twitter handle @PotholeWarriors, said that he had earlier complained to the MSRDC about potholes on the flyover where the couple met with an accident. “I had lodged a complaint on July 17 which was attended to within a couple of days. However, the potholes resurfaced within the next 3 days. Wednesday’s incident happened because of potholes as the contractors who carry out filling works, do so by using shoddy materials,” Ansari said.

Another civic activist, Godfrey Pimenta from the NGO Watchdog Foundation, wrote a letter to municipal commissioner, Iqbal Singh Chahal on Thursday stating, “In every ward, a nodal officer needs to be appointed at ground zero who would submit regular reports to the junior engineer of the ward about the pothole situation. Following this, the process of pothole filling could be taken up on war footing.”

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