Mumbai sees 3rd pothole death in a month; blame game starts
With the death of five-year-old Vedant Vikram Das on Thursday, the number of casualties from accidents caused by potholes and bad roads has risen to three in less than a month. Two of these were in Thane city.
The three accidents that have claimed lives have raised questions about the work done by Thane Municipal Corporation (TMC) and the Maharashtra State Road Development Corporation (MSRDC). The first took place in Mumbra on July 17, killing a 46-year-old woman, riding pillion, who fell off the bike when her husband skidded over a pothole. On August 6, a traffic cop fell to his death in Ambernath while trying to avoid potholes. On Thursday, Das fell and was run over by a tempo after his father skidded over a pothole on Ghodbunder Road.
However, the MSRDC maintained Das’s death was not due to the condition of Ghodbunder Road. Anilkumar Gaikwad, joint managing director of the MSRDC, said, “It does not seem like a pothole death. His bike skidded leading to the accident. We are filling the potholes across Ghodbunder Road using cold mix and paver blocks in monsoon. When we get a dry spell we will fill them with hot mix which is more durable.”
Following Das’s death, the police arrested the tempo driver for rash and negligent driving. The police case said the accident took place due to an “uneven patch of road.”
Ravindra Khadtale, city engineer of TMC, placed the blame on MSRDC. “The road where the accident took place is not our road but MSRDC road. It is true that the commissioner had asked to fill potholes across the city and we are repairing them wherever possible,” he said.
Urban policy researcher Mayuresh Bhadsavle blamed lack of coordination between authorities for the poor condition of roads. “There is no single road standard guideline followed by these authorities. Moreover, each tries to blame the other for the road’s condition. There are many such accidents like the Ghodbunder Road accident, wherein cement road is made by one authority while the asphalt road by another, without any coordination between each other,” he said.
Bhadsavle said there should be a maintenance code that would necessarily followed for all road construction and repair works. “The sub-standard or poor construction, especially in areas like Mumbra and Kalwa, is also a major reason for potholes. The contractors are chosen with vested interests and the road works suffer. Another reason is the plying of heavy vehicles on service roads and internal city roads which further deteriorates the road,” said Bhadsavle.
Two days ago, Thane-based non-governmental organisation Jaag had staged protests to highlight the issue of bad roads across the city. Milind Gaikwad, a member of Jaag, suggested the civic body be put in charge of roads. “The road can be developed by any authority. However they can hand over the roads to the TMC for maintenance. The state can give the revenue to the corporation for maintenance. This will resolve the coordination confusion between different authorities,” he said. Gaikwad also criticised the repair work done on roads. “The potholes are fixed in a hurry, there is no scientific process for the work,” he said, adding that guidelines aren’t followed to ensure the repair work is properly carried out.