When 26-year-old Kalpesh Jadhaw left for his house on his two-wheeler, he was riding home for spending time with his family over the weekend. However, he became the fourth this month to die negotiating potholes on Kalyan roads. Jadhaw, a resident of Nandkargaon, was on his way home from Kalyan when the accident occurred in the early hours of Friday. He worked as a construction material supplier. According to the police, Jadhaw’s scooter skidded while he travelling from Gandhari bridge to the Aadharwadi jail in Kalyan. While manoeuvring a pothole, Jadhaw allegedly fell on the road and was crushed under a container truck, killing him on the spot.
“Because of the incessant rains, he couldn’t meet his clients for a few days. However, on Thursday, when the rains took a break, he went to meet his clients and was supposed to return on Friday morning,” said Jadhaw’s neighbour. He added, “He is the youngest of three siblings and had married around four months ago.” On Thursday, a mechanic identified as Anna (40) fell on his face when he accidentally slipped into a pothole while he was on his way to a market and was crushed to death by a speeding truck.
The incident happened on the same stretch of road barely a few kilometres from the potholes that led to Jadhaw’s death. Similarly, Manisha Bhoir (40), a peon at a local school, was crushed to death when the bike she was riding pillion skidded around a pothole and slipped off the paver blocks lying on the road, throwing her across the road. The incident happened on Sunday on Agra road a little over three kilometres from Jadhaw’s accident spot. Like Gandhari bridge, Agra road is riddled with potholes. Another person, who is yet to be identified, died when a truck toppled over an autorickshaw on the Kalyan-Bhiwandi road.
According to locals, the worst roads are in Kalyan West. “From Haji Malang to Adharwadi road, all the roads are riddled with numerous ditches,” said Shalini Panvelkar, a resident of Kalyan. According to authorities, however, once they assess the roads on Friday, as instructed by the municipal commissioner, they will have a clearer picture of the pothole menace.
However, it took four deaths for KDMC officials to swing into action. Speaking to the press, Govind Bodake, KDMC Commissioner, said that he had already given a 48-hour deadline to fill up all potholes in Kalyan. “We have cancelled weekly offs of the staff of the technical departments. Between July 14 and 15 all the roads will be surveyed and the potholes filled,” Bodake said. While in 2017, two pothole-related accidents were reported till August, this year by July, four people had died.
Satellite cities of Mumbai, including Thane and Navi Mumbai, are also grappling with similar problems. One pothole-related death was reported in Navi Mumbai on Friday. Sunny Vishwakarma (23) was allegedly killed on the Thane-Belapur road on Friday. The man was on a two-wheeler, when it hit a pothole and he fell down, suffering serious head and neck injuries, sources said. “He was travelling from his rented accomodation in Kharegaon to his home in Ulwa when the incident happened. He was rushed to a nearby hospital but was declared dead,” said senior inspector S Padavi from Sanpada police station.
Padavi said, “We have informed the family and lodged an accidental death report. But we are investigating about the cause of the accident and if it’s a pothole-related death.” While this is the first pothole-related death in Navi mumbai this year, activists have been claiming that they had warned about such accidents. “We have been protesting against condition of roads for some time now. The roads are really bad especially near Turbhe, Sanpada, Kharghar and Kalamboli,” said Ganesh Jadhav, a resident of Airoli who has been protesting against the road conditions. He added, “Such an accident was waiting to happen as the potholes are big and scattered over the road.”
The Thane Municipal Corporation (TMC) started working on road repairs just days prior to monsoon, and the rains have washed away parts of the road in Saket, Waghbil Naka, Balkum and Korus company junction. “There are craters big enough to dislodge two-wheeler riders on roads which were recently repaired. The TMC should take strict action against the road contractors and civic officials responsible,” said Dhwani Sant, a resident of Balkum. However, TMC officials blamed the rains. “Once the rains decrease a bit, we will assess the damage and decide further action,” an official from TMC said. Meanwhile, mayor Minakshi Shinde has ordered officials to immediately fill up the potholes. “This is serious and can lead to loss of lives. The potholes should be filled at the earliest,” she said to the press on Friday evening.