Contrary to evidence through photographs and complaints on social media, the BMC maintains there are less than 300 potholes in the city. While Monday’s brief respite from heavy rain provided officials a window to attend to pending complaints, it appears that the civic body is receiving fewer pothole-related complaints this year as a result of setting up multiple platforms for registration of grievances.
From June 28 till July 2, a total of 284 potholes have been reported and 60 of them are yet to be attended. Last year in the same time period, 1,422 potholes were reported. The BMC’s logic behind counting potholes from June 28 is that the potholes appeared only after the heavy rains hit the city. even as the IMD announced that monsoon had arrived in the city on June 20.
Complaints can now be registered on the old MCGM mobile application and on helpline numbers provided, but residents stated that the BMC had not spread awareness about these.
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Until last year, complaints were registered on the BMC’s pothole tracking system, now scrapped. The system, launched in 2011, was transparent and helped citizens who wanted to report a pothole, with the guarantee of response within 48 hours. The system used the GIS as well as the GPS. If the engineer to whom a complaint had been assigned failed to repair it within 48 hours, he was fined by the BMC and it was recorded in his service records.
After the pothole tracking system was scrapped due to the BMC receiving a single bid for the project, it announced the setting up of a platform to register complaints on social media portals such as Facebook as well as a separate mobile application, which has, however, failed to take off.
Roads Department officials stated there is now no mechanism to get cumulative figure of pothole complaints. “Some complaints get registered on the helpline, a few on MCGM mobile application, some with the ward level officials and others come directly to the roads department. There is no way to know what the total count is and no way to collectively monitor repairs,” said a roads department official.
Following the High Court’s directions, the BMC was to set up two helplines for pothole reporting, which it didn’t do. “Two helplines are being used by citizens to report illegal hoardings. So we decided to use the same numbers, 1292 and 1293, for pothole complaints,” said an official.
Citizen activists stated they were unaware of the helplines. and there was lack of transparency on whether the complaint had been assigned to a road engineer and whether the engineer would be fined for not attending to it within the time limit. “Residents don’t have access to mobile numbers of ward officials and has no idea where to complain. Since the BMC relies on complaints to monitor potholes, they should have taken up an awareness drive like they did during the dengue prevention campaign, when they sent a circular to every housing society,” said Anil Joseph of Perry Road Residents’ Association.