‘Must stop’: HC pulls up state, NHAI for recurring potholes
Why does the “phenomenon of potholes keep recurring every year”, the Bombay high court asked the government on Tuesday, highlighting a problem that plagues both Mumbai and the highways leading out of it, every monsoon.mumbai Updated: Aug 01, 2018 10:49 IST
Why does the “phenomenon of potholes keep recurring every year”, the Bombay high court asked the government on Tuesday, highlighting a problem that plagues both Mumbai and the highways leading out of it, every monsoon.
Acting on a public interest litigation complaining about potholes on long stretches of the Mumbai-Goa highway, the high court on Tuesday asked the state government and the National Highway Authority of India (NHAI) to file undertakings promising they would not only repair the highway in a time-bound manner, but also appoint experts to find out why potholes develop on the stretch every year,. “You also know, this is an annual phenomenon, and for years this is happening on the Mumbai-Goa highway,” the division bench of Justice Abhay Oka and Justice Riyaz Chagla told the government pleader Abhinandan Vagyani.
“If you are putting so much of public money in the construction and annual repairs of roads, why don’t you appoint an expert agency to find out why potholes recur every monsoon and to suggest measures to stop this,” said the bench, adding, “If you fail to make a firm assurance as regards appointing some expert agency, we will have to do it for you.”
“Otherwise, how long will you continue to do this exercise (of filling potholes and repairing roads every monsoon)?” the judges asked. “This must stop somewhere.”
The court was hearing a public interest litigation filed by advocate Owais Pechkar, who had complained about the poor condition of the Mumbai- Goa highway. The lawyer pointed out long patches on the highway, which is partly maintained by NHAI and partly by the state government, were riddled with potholes and the bad condition of the road would create chaos once traffic increases between Mumbai and Konkan during the Ganesh festival next month.
Both the government pleader, Vagyani, and NHAI’s lawyer set the Ganesh festival as their deadline to fix the potholes, prompting the judges to ask if people used the Mumbai-Goa highway only for the festival, and not otherwise. It is the state’s constitutional duty to maintain roads in proper condition, the judges said.
Responding to the PIL, Vagyani, told the court the first 83 km of the highway, from Panvel to Indapur, was within the purview of the NHAI, while the remaining 387 km was under the state government. He said the state public works department has identified a patch of 49 km affected by potholes, which will be filled-in before the Ganapati festival.
NHAI’s lawyer told the court that of the 83 km, only a 9-km stretch was affected by potholes, and he too assured the court these will be fixed before Ganeshotsav.
Vagyani also told the court the state government has decided to concretise 80% of the 387 -km stretch of the highway and the concretisation work will be done in phases, by January 2020.
First Published: Aug 01, 2018 01:04 IST