At a time when five people have died due to damaged roads in Mumbai in the last two weeks, Maharashtra PWD minister Chandrakant Patil has said that potholes could not be entirely blamed for accidents. Trivialising accidents due to potholes, Patil reasoned that about five lakh people travel on a road daily and its condition alone cannot be held liable for the deaths.
“When you talk about a death in such an accident, you forget that five lakh other people have travelled on the same road. You can not put the entire blame on the (condition of) roads alone,” Patil said on Saturday. Surprisingly, the minister acknowledged that he did not have information about the recent accidents in the Mumbai region but said action would be taken against erring officials.
Patil further said family members of the deceased would get due compensation. The minister’s remarks come at a time when a report, shared by states with the Centre, mentioned that Maharashtra came second in pothole-related deaths. The state recorded doubling of deaths at 726 in 2017 from 329 in the preceding year. Uttar Pradesh tops the list with 987 pothole-related deaths in 2017.
Days after incessant rainfall, potholes have made a comeback in Mumbai and its satellite towns as water has started receding from city roads. Residents have castigated the municipal bodies over the pothole issue, which has been their bugbear ever since the onset of monsoon in Maharashtra.
Asked about the flak civic bodies are receiving over bad roads on social media, Patil said, “People have a habit of changing their opinions constantly. They will like something for a while and soon pass a negative remark (on the same issue).”
Claiming that there were 20,000 potholes in Mumbai roads and not 300 as stated by the BMC before the Bombay High Court, state Congress chief Sanjay Nirupam on Sunday said he would “file an FIR” against Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis, Shiv Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray (whose party rules the BMC), the municipal commissioner and the mayor for the bad roads.
Terming the minister’s comments “insensitive”, Congress said Patil would understand people’s ire after the elections. “Government is not expected to run away by raising doubts about accident deaths. We condemn the minister for his insensitive comment,” Congress general secretary Sachin Sawant said.
Accidents on pothole-ridden roads claimed five lives in the Kalyan and Thane area in the last two weeks. In all these cases, victims lost balance and fell when their two-wheelers hit a pothole.