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BMC's pothole claims hollow

The city's winding roads and gullies have just 5,000 potholes. That's what the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) will have us believe.

mumbai Updated: Aug 18, 2010 01:46 IST
HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
Hindustan Times

The city's winding roads and gullies have just 5,000 potholes. That's what the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) will have us believe.

It's the figure they have put on a list, released last week, of ward-wise potholes in each of the 24 civic wards. Hindustan Times, however, has found that this is not true at all.

When confronted by HT's data, civic officials quickly changed tack, declaring they had only counted potholes on arterial roads; internal roads, service roads and smaller by-lanes were left out.

The civic body has now regurgitated its usual spiel promising to fix the problem once and for all within a year.

Asked why was there a need to repair roads every year as the BMC had allocated a Rs 60-crore fund just to repair potholes, BMC Commissioner Swadheen Kshatriya said, "Such a huge sum will not be required every year. The BMC has two expert reports on the issue, the Merani Committee report and the STAC report. I will be going through the reports and implement the suggestions."

He said he has called all stakeholders for a meeting, will speak to experts and get to the bottom of the problem. "You will not find the roads in such bad condition next year," he assured.

Corporators are, however, sceptical. "The civic administration has failed to address the problem in totality," Congress corporator Samir Desai said.

A BMC engineer, on condition of anonymity, said sometimes contractors' labourers who execute the job are professionally unaware of the best methods.

He added that the BMC had done a study to find out why Mumbai's roads were in such bad state perennially. Are the numerous trenches dug by the various utilities — power, water, telephone and gas — to blame? The BMC's road department report says it is.

Today around 350-km of road is dug up by utilities and construction companies executing projects like skywalks, flyovers and the metro.

"Digging is one of the most lucrative contracts supported by all public utilities. They have cables, pipes underneath the roads, thanks to the old British system. Experts had come up with a ducting solution. These ducts, which can be opened along sidewalks, will include all paraphernalia public utility paraphernalia like wires, cables, small pipes, gas pipes, etc. In case of a problem, they can simply open the duct at the side of the road and set it right as it is done in other countries. But BMC says no. The digging contractors' lobby did not allow it to go through," a former corporator said.

First Published: Aug 18, 2010 01:45 IST