Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray on Saturday instructed the BMC to set up a panel of all the government agencies and immediately fill up potholes and complete road repair works across Mumbai.
During a review meeting, held through video-conference, Thackeray asked the agencies to ensure proper coordination to tackle the rising Covid-19 cases and other monsoon-related diseases. The chief minister asked the BMC to hold a meeting with all agencies, including MMRDA, PWD, Metro, Mumbai Port Trust, and the Railways, to fast-track all the monsoon-related works in Mumbai. “A joint panel of all agencies should be set up and a mechanism should be created that will ensure the immediate pothole-filling and road-repair works even if the roads come under the jurisdiction of different agencies,” Thackeray said.
Roads in Mumbai fall under the jurisdiction of various agencies such as BMC, MMRDA, and PWD, among others. So far, there has always been a blame game between the Shiv Sena-ruled BMC and other agencies over the pothole repairs works. With Thackeray heading the state, the idea of setting up the joint panel of all agencies assumes significance as the Sena may no longer be in a position to pass the buck.
In the past, Sena has stressed on sharing road maintenance work among different agencies. In 2011, Thackeray, then the Shiv Sena executive president, had called for “dissolving” the MMRDA headed by the then chief minister Prithviraj Chavan, which was responsible for maintenance of some bridges, flyovers and roads under the Metro and monorail projects. In 2018, the party had staged a protest blaming the BJP for the poor condition of roads under the PWD and the MMRDA.
“Every year there is a new committee, which promises to look into the complaints on potholes and there aren’t any results. BMC needs to inspect the quality of road under their jurisdiction first to check why potholes reoccur after first showers in the city every year,” said Prabhakar Shinde, BJP corporator and leader of opposition in the BMC.
Dadar-based activist Nikhil Desai, meanwhile, said the new committee would become another excuse to pass the buck. “Majority of road length, nearly 1,800 km, is under BMC’s jurisdiction. They should look into maintaining these roads and keep them pothole-free,” he said.
In 2017, the Bombay High Court had formed a two-member committee to look into repair and maintenance of roads. Based on the suggestion of the panel, BMC each year publishes a list of WhatsApp contact numbers of road engineers where citizens can submit complaints on potholes. People can also register complaints on a mobile application, ‘MCGM 24/7’, and on toll-free 1800221293, between 9 am and 9 pm.
During the meeting, Thackeray also emphasised on the need of proper planning while stating that fever, cough and cold cases could go up during the monsoon.
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