THE BOMBAY High Court, while hearing a public interest litigation (PIL) on potholes in the city, on Thursday said that good roads, streets and footpaths are fundamental rights of the citizens. “We are aware of the state government’s endeavour to make every city smart. However, no city can be known as smart unless its roads, streets and footpaths are in a reasonable condition,” said Justice A S Oka.
The court added that incidents like the death of gastroenterologist Dr Deepak Amrapurkar, who died when he fell into a manhole on August 29, 2017, on a day parts of the city had received 315 mm rainfall, should not be repeated. The court was hearing a suo motu PIL filed in 2013, following a letter written by HC judge Gautam Patel.
A division bench of Justice A S Oka and Justice R I Chagla directed the state government to set up a centralised grievance redressal mechanism, through which citizens can lodge complaints. It added that the state government should ensure that complainants are informed about the steps taken to redress the same. On Amrapurkar’s death, the court said the BMC has to take steps to ensure that no manholes are kept open and that these are protected with a barricade displaying effective warnings in case they are opened.
It added that one of the several reasons for traffic is bad condition of the roads. “It is the duty of traffic officials to communicate the same (about the bad road) to local civic bodies so that they take immediate steps,” it said, adding that it is the legal obligation of traffic officials to inform local bodies of the poor condition of roads. The state government has to give directions to the traffic police in this regard, it said.
The court maintained that it is the fundamental right of a citizen to lodge complaints and the government should take note of the grievances. It also called for the government to create a centralised grievance centre, along with a toll free number and a website, on which complainants would be able to check the progress of their complaints.
In case of an accident due to bad roads, complainants can also seek compensation from the local authority, the