Two years after it was recommended that all roads in the city be brought under the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation for repairs and maintenance, the proposal continues to gathering dust in Mantralaya.
Meanwhile, as complaints of potholes on arterial roads such as the Western Express Highway grow, agencies such as the PWD and the BMC continue to pass the buck on who is responsible.
The proposal was made as part of the recommendations of a report prepared by a state-appointed committee of officials, belonging to different agencies involved in construction and maintenance of roads across Maharashtra. The state had appointed the panel to suggest uniform standards for the maintenance of roads within Mumbai.
The panel was headed by then civic chief Sitaram Kunte and members included representatives from the MMRDA, the MSRDC, the PWD and the SRA.
The panel’s contention was that coordination among different agencies in attending to potholes during the monsoon is a time-consuming and tedious. Also, there is no accountability for the bad stretches.
While Mumbai has around 2,000 km of roads, more than 1,900 kms are maintained by the BMC. Usually, citizens tend to complain to the civic body.
“Citizens, not familiar with the functioning of different agencies, just call the BMC to report potholes. But then, it passes the buck saying the road is not under its purview. As the common people don’t have helplines for other agencies, they just stop complaining. Bringing all roads under BMC would be a good move as this will fix the responsibility with the civic body,” said Nikhil Desai, an activist.
Officials from the BMC said different agencies’ approach to road construction is different. “So, the quality of the roads is different . For a city like Mumbai, it would be good if all roads are under the BMC,” said an official.
Senior officials said the proposal is stuck with the government and there was no movement on it in the last one year. “It is with them to take a call on it. But even then, the maintenance of all city roads comes with a cost. We are ready to maintain all the roads in the city limits but somebody has to pay to us for that,” said a senior civic official.
The official added the maintenance of all roads means the BMC will have to increase its staff strength. “Some of the roads are big and of high quality. So, it will put additional burden on the existing staff,” he said.