Rough ride in Mumbai? 32 agencies dig up your roads for utility cables
20% to 25% of the city’s roads are constantly in a state of disrepair.Updated: Aug 02, 2018 11:01 IST
Why are Mumbai’s roads bad all year round? When 32 agencies — responsible for the city’s electricity and cooking gas supply, telephone and internet connections — constantly dig up your roads, what else can you expect?
According to the BMC, these 32 utility companies, the highest for any Indian city, dig up roads to lay their cables, but when the time comes to fill them up, they don’t do so properly.
As a result, 20% to 25% of Mumbai’s roads, mainly in rapidly developing areas, are constantly in a state of disrepair.
Some of these agencies, such as the ones supplying electricity and water, are the BMC’s own.
In the past year alone, the BMC received 27,048 applications from different agencies wanting to lay utility cables — these were mostly in Bandra, Andheri, Mankhurd, Elphinstone, Parel, Kurla, Goregaon, and Borivli.
Civic officials said this kind of trenching was one of the top reasons for pothole-ridden roads and water-logging. “Roads repaired after a utility cable is laid are not of the same quality as the original road,” said an official.
The official said the agencies are charged a hefty amount when they ask for permission to dig up a road, raning from ₹5,000 to ₹21,000 a metre depending on the type of road—concrete, asphalt or paver block.
“Despite these charges, some companies do not show any responsibility while filling back the trench, sometimes even leaving it unattended for several days”, the official said.
According to the BMC’s policy, trenches need to be filled within seven days of cables being laid.
But is poor governance and lack of monitoring also to blame? As Pankaj Joshi, the director of the Urban Design Research Institute (UDRI), points out, laying utilities is an essential part of urbanisation.
“Over the next few years, a lot more technologies will come up, which means we will need to lay more utilities,” Joshi said.
So, the municipal corporation should execute plans more systematically to ensure roads get better.
This leads us to focus on two problems — the first is the technical issue of how roads are dug up and repaired, and the second, the problem in governance, and the lack of systematic planning.”