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Monday, August 10, 2020

Mumbai: Amid lockdown, dip in pothole complaints

Officials from BMC’s road department said that the lockdown has given them the opportunity to repair many busy roads, where no work could take place for years due to heavy traffic

Written by Laxman Singh | Mumbai | Published: July 15, 2020 8:43:13 am


Weather Forecast Today, July 6: Rainfall likely in central and northwest India Mumbai: Municipal workers stand on a waterlogged street to keep commuters away from manholes, during monsoon rain, at Sion in Mumbai, Sunday, July 5, 2020.(PTI/File)

Since June, when monsoon arrived in Mumbai, BMC has been receiving lesser number complaints regarding potholes on city roads from residents.

While last year, it had received about 1,100 such complaints between June 1 to July 9, this year, BMC’s pothole management app has got only 196 complaints till July 14.

While BMC officials attributed this to the pre-monsoon road works and “pro-active” repairs of potholes undertaken by the civic body, corporators and activists pointed out that restricted vehicular movement and less people coming out on the roads due to the lockdown are behind the reduced numbers.

Of the 196 complaints, while 157 have been resolved, 39 are pending for action. Of the 39 pending complaints, only nine are on roads managed by BMC. The rest are under the jurisdiction of other agencies like MMRDA, SRA, PWD and MHADA. The highest number of potholes (29) have been reported in P North (Malad) ward.

Officials from BMC’s road department said that the lockdown has given them the opportunity to repair many busy roads, where no work could take place for years due to heavy traffic. “Initially, for a few days, repair work was stalled since many labourers had left the city. But later, we managed to get labourers and undertook repair works on all major roads that had reported potholes,” said an official.

Last year, facing criticism over increasing number of potholes, BMC had launched ‘Pothole Challenge’, asking residents to post photographs of potholes on a mobile app. If the potholes were not repaired within 24 hours of the complaints being registered, the complainants would be entitled to received a reward of Rs 500. It had also come out with WhatsApp numbers for all 24 wards on which residents could send their complaints.

Citizen activist from Matunga, Nikhil Desai, said that numbers of pothole complaints are less because of the Covid-19 pandemic. “There is a huge difference between this year and last year. Due to lockdown restrictions, few people are coming out.” Activist Anil Galgali added that the numbers will increase once the lockdown is lifted completely.

Aneesh Makwaney, the corporator from Juhu, said: “Most private offices are shut and government offices are working with 15 per cent staff. Limited number of BEST buses are running. Very few taxis and autorickshaws are plying, as most drivers have returned to their native places. Overall traffic and vehicle load have reduced significantly. Then there is the rule that residents cannot take their vehicles beyond 2-km radius from their homes, else they would be seized. All these factors have led to less number of potholes.”

However, some activists said that BMC has done well in repairing roads. “It is difficult to find potholes this time. Civic officials have utilised the lockdown period well,” said Mushtaq Ansari, who used get potholes repaired on his own.

Sanjay Darade, Deputy Municipal Commissioner (Infrastructure) and chief engineer of BMC’s roads and traffic departments, said: “Despite the Covid-19 crisis, our staff did their best to repairs roads. Also, the pro-active steps taken by our ward engineers to attend to pothole complaints is helping. After receiving any complaint, we ensure that it is be repaired as soon as possible.”

The BMC has allocated Rs 55 lakh to repair potholes in each of the 24 wards. Before monsoon, it had started repairs of 207 roads.

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