Peeved about the deplorable condition of roads in and around the city and recent instances of accidents caused by potholes,the Bombay High Court Monday initiated suo motu action against state government and civic authorities in charge of maintaining roads in Mumbai,Thane and Navi Mumbai.
Chief Justice Mohit Shah and Justice M S Sanklecha took cognisance of a letter by Justice Gautam Patel,a former lawyer-activist,who was appointed as additional judge of the High Court on June 21. Justice Patel had on July 24 written to the Chief Justice pointing out the pathetic condition of roads that recently led to fatal accidents.
Issuing notices to the state government and corporation officials,the court said,The chief secretary of the state government,principal secretary of the Public Works Department,Municipal Commissioners of Mumbai,Navi Mumbai and Thane Municipal Corporations and the chief executive officers of MMRDA,MSRDC and MbPT shall remain personally present on August 13. The court has also asked the Central Road Research Institute in Delhi to send a senior official for the hearing on August 13.
Nearly seven years after the court appointed a road-monitoring committee that was later dissolved after a PIL was diposed of to examine the condition of the citys roads,the worsening condition of roads will be under its scanner once again. The courts intervention may give hope to citizens accusing the administration of turning a deaf ear to complaints.
Citing its August 2006 order,the court reminded the government and civic bodies: It is the government and its agencies duty,responsibility and obligation to provide proper roads within their jurisdiction to the commuters throughout the year. By not doing so,these authorities may expose themselves to serious consequences by infringing the valuable rights of the people. Lest it must be forgotten,bad roads mean physical damage,huge economic loss and accidents.
The court questioned the corporation over the criteria for awarding road contracts. The court asked if the corporations awarded road contracts to those citing the lowest cost,or those providing the best quality. The court also criticised the practice of awarding contracts just before monsoon. Does the civic body have the time to examine the competence and credentials of these contractors? the court asked.
The court also expressed concern over the lack of coordination between agencies responsible for maintenance and repair of roads.
608 potholes yet to be filled
Six weeks into the monsoon,BMC is yet to fill 608 potholes. SVR Srinivas,Additional Municipal Commissioner (roads) Monday said their engineers were working overtime to repair roads. Meanwhile,the civic body also cancelled the contract of Atash Ashirwad for failing to address complaints of potholes in K-east,K-west and R-south wards. Srinivas said,We have been holding meetings with Brihanmumbai Sarvajanik Ganeshotsav Samanvaya Samiti,based on which we have set August 25 as the deadline to fix the roads where Ganpati processions will be carried out.
BMCs pothole-tracking website has so far registered more than 13,000 complaints. D-ward,comprising Malabar Hill,Napean Sea Road and Worli,has reported the most potholes at 985,G-North covering Matunga,Dadar and Dharavi reported 810 potholes,and P-north ward,comprising Malad (West),Dindoshi,Poisar and Malwani,recorded 704.