A formal proposal has been submitted to the state government to bring all roads within the limits of Mumbai under the jurisdiction of the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC). “We have submitted the report to the government. It is under consideration now,”said BMC Municipal Commissioner Sitaram Kunte.
The proposal has been made as part of the recommendations of a report prepared by a state-appointed committee of officials, belonging to different agencies, who are involved in the construction of various roads in the state.
Chaired by Kunte, the committee members include representatives from stakeholder bodies such as the Mumbai Metropolitan Regional Development Authority (MMRDA), the Maharashtra State Road Development Corporation (MSRDC), Public Works Department (PWD), and the Slum Rehabilllitation Authority (SRA), among other state agencies.
“The state-appointed committee was formed to look into uniform standards for the maintenance and repair of roads within the limits of Mumbai. Currently, different agencies are in charge of various roads in Mumbai, though most roads are under BMC. These agencies, be it MMRDA, MSRDC, PWD or even SRA, have their own standards for construction and maintenance of roads, which lead to different outcomes in maintenance. This may be suitable for other parts of the state, but in the city, all agencies should adhere to Mumbai standards,” said additional municipal commissioner SVR Srinivas.
After deliberations, which lasted over a year, the committee, in its report, has pointed out that coordination between the different agencies for tending to potholes during the monsoon season, and general road repair, has been tedious and time-consuming.
The committee has also noted that as roads remain under various agencies, the problem of accountability for bad roads is not dealt with adequately.
“The common citizen will not know who is responsible for which road. There is no predictability in the accountability for repair works.
Moreover, the underground utilities such as storm water drains and water pipelines cut across roads irrespective of their ownership, so it is an unavoidable necessity to coordinate with other agencies,” Srinivas said.
Accordingly, as a solution, quoting Schedule 12 of the Indian Constitution, the committee, in its final remarks, strongly recommended bringing all roads under one agency – the local authority – which, in this case, is BMC.
Mumbai has about 2,000 km of public roads, of which over 1,941 km are maintained by BMC. The rest are maintained by other agencies.
In 2012, deputy chief minister Ajit Pawar (NCP) had expressed an inclination to transfer the charge of the Western Express Highway and the Eastern Express Highway from the NCP-favoured PWD to the Shiv Sena-led BMC. BMC had made requests to the agency for the transfer, but the matter remained stuck.“If the government takes a decision to transfer all public roads under BMC’s care in six months, we are ready for it,”said an official.