In a major change, the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) has now decided that ward officials, instead of the roads department, will decide which roads need repair.
BMC officials said the decision was taken after it was found that many roads, that had been in a good condition, were taken up for repairs by the roads department.
The roads department had prepared a master plan for improvement of the roads in the city. But “many flaws were found in the plan” and taxpayers’ money was being wasted in the repairs and improvements of roads in the past few years, said a civic official.
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“The plan on which roads should be repaired was flawed. During my site visits, I observed that roads were over-designed. There were many roads which had been in a good condition and should not have required repairs. So now, we have taken a decision that ward officials will decide which roads should be repaired, instead of the roads department,” said Municipal Commissioner Ajoy Mehta.
The ward officials, who worked on the field, had to receive complaints about the quality of roads from city residents, added Mehta.
The civic body’s move comes after the crackdown on contractors and civic engineers, allegedly involved in the Rs 352-crore roads scam. Two chiefs were suspended after an inquiry into 34 roads and the BMC had also lodged an FIR against six contractors and party auditors for cheating and issuing false certificates. So far, 22 people associated with the contractors and the third party auditors have been arrested.
The roads department of the civic body spends more than Rs 1,000 crore on the city’s road repairs and improvements, every year.
Officials from the roads department said they took inputs from the ward officials during the preparation of the plan.
“The decision could have been taken because it was found that many engineers from the department were hand-in-glove with the contractors in the roads scam, which led to the substandard work. So, it is quite possible that the engineers manipulated the proposals on which roads should be taken up for repair,” said an official.
The official added that the decision would bring more transparency in the system and improve the quality of the city roads.
Last year, the civic body had scrapped road repair contracts, worth Rs 500 crore, after it was found that the roads listed did not require repairs and were in good shape.