After the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) told the Bombay High Court on Friday that it had written to the State Chief Secretary last February to make it the sole planning authority for road maintenance in Mumbai, the court indicated it will direct the urban development department (UDD) to consider the request.
The court made these remarks while hearing a contempt petition filed by a lawyer, alleging that civic authorities had failed to implement the High Court orders of February and April 2018, on a suo motu PIL directing repairs on potholes on all arterial roads in the city as well as a uniform mechanism to redress residents’ grievances pertaining to bad roads and potholes.
The BMC told the bench it will take at least two-and-a-half to three years to concretise more than 2,000 km of lanes, bylanes and roads. BMC Commissioner Iqbal Singh Chahal gave a presentation to the court and gave a list of potholes on 21 “most affected and bad roads” under their purview, as directed by the court. The BMC said it has issued tenders for such roads with a total length of 125 km and they will be filled up up and fully carpeted with asphalt within three months.
The BMC said there are fifteen other agencies in Mumbai, including the Metropolitan Region Development Authority (MMRDA), Maharashtra State Road Development Corporation (MSRDC), Mumbai Metro Rail Corporation Limited (MMRCL) and Public Works Department (PWD), that manage roads. Just these few agencies manage more than 500 km of roads, it said.
The BMC said this creates hindrances and delays in carrying out road repair work and highlighted the need for a single planning authority in the city to ensure a holistic approach towards development and ease in redressing residents’ grievances.
The court said it will monitor the progress in filling up potholes and concretisation of roads every two months and will ask the authorities to submit status reports in hearings.
On September 22, the court had asked the BMC Commissioner and secretary of Public Works Department (PWD) to identify and survey the city’s 21 “most affected and bad roads” under their purview and give a roadmap for repairing them.
A division bench of Chief Justice Dipankar Datta and Justice Makarand S Karnik was hearing the contempt petition filed by lawyer Ruju Thakker.
Chahal on Friday made a PowerPoint presentation before the bench and said the city administration faces several issues due to over 100 per cent rainfall, high density traffic, and other infrastructure projects in the city, and underlined the need for a single planning authority for roads.
He said the maximum number of pothole-prone roads in Mumbai are in the western suburbs. “Concrete roads are not prone to potholes easily since concrete doesn’t require period surfacing. These roads can also easily bear the weight of heavy vehicles and have a life of at least 30 years. So, concretisation of roads is the only solution towards mitigating potholes,” said Chahal in his presentation.
In the presentation it was revealed that of the 21 worse roads, ten are in the western suburbs, which includes areas like Borivali, Malad and Andheri, six are in the eastern suburbs which includes Bhandup and Kurla and five roads are in the island city, covering Mumbadevi, Byculla and Parel.
According to the BMC, the city has road network of 2,055 km of which 990 km has been concretised already. Concretisation is underway on another 265 km of roads and a tender for concretising 397 km of roads will be awarded in November. The BMC data states concretisation for 398 km more of roads will be carried out in the next phase. The BMC data also states the civic body has been able to rectify 99.6 per cent of the total pothole complaints it had recorded this monsoon.
The BMC had received a total of 34,392 pothole-related complaints between June 1, 2022 and September 23, 2022, of which 34,287 potholes have been already attended and filled.
Sadashiv Salunkhe, secretary (Roads), PWD, submitted an affidavit in the court saying there are 323,208 km of motorable roads in Maharashtra and the department maintains major state highways and district roads with a total length of 98,189 km. He added that potholes on these will be filled up by December 31. The PWD secretary said the department has 23 km of roads in Mumbai and they are all pothole free.