As scores of children scurry out of a municipal school on a rare sunny afternoon, and try evading a crater which has narrowed an already congested path, a couple of civic workers take note and try to fix the 8-sq-meter pothole. Add to this, two BEST buses pass through the road simultaneously, forcing the workers to move the barricades off the way. As the crowds increase, pedestrians also find it difficult to cross the path. The huge pothole in the Patilwadi area of suburban Deonar was registered by a civic official on late Monday evening, following which contractors have been on the job along with a team of civic officials on the spot for the past 24 hours.
The team of officials is one of the 48 teams formed by the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) to tackle Mumbai’s pothole menace for the next four months. With one part of the road dug-up to undertake the repair works, traffic snarls in the narrow lane leading to the busy Shivaji Nagar increases. The situation would have worsened had it rained at the same time, a worker on the spot said.
BMC promises Mumbai of a better ride during monsoons, every year, which ultimately gets washed away with the first rains. This year too, with just three days of heavy showers, 211 potholes have been registered on the civic body’s pothole tracking website — http://www.voiceofcitizen.com. “This is just a preliminary test. Our main task starts from July when the complaints increase tremendously. Our main aim is to reduce the response time in getting the repair works done,” said a sub-engineer from the M/East ward, that includes Deonar.
The sub-engineer along with two junior engineers and workers take a stock of the entire ward divided into 13 beats (or electoral wards) everyday during monsoons. They also rely heavily on mukadams, who they claim are the most experienced for spotting bad patches in the huge ward.
The team has to attend to complaints registered on the official website within 48 hours. Kiran Dighavkar, Assistant Commissioner of the ward said, “The team starts working from 8.30 am. They are not only responsible for spotting potholes but also have to scrutinise the work being done by contractors and after the repairs have been completed.”
Last year, M/East ward had registered 364 potholes in a span of two and a half months. Officials added that the numbers went upto 15 on an average on days of heavy rainfall in July and August last year. In the last one week, more than seven potholes have been registered in the ward that includes a huge number of slums. The marshy land and lesser development in the area makes it all the more vulnerable to bad patches during monsoon, officials said.
The pothole in Patilwadi, just outside the Deonar municipal school, was reported by an engineer on Monday evening.
Once registered, the system sent an alert to the contractors Aakash and Wonderpatch Engineering, a joint venture, which is looking at repair works in the M/East, M/West (Chembur) and L (Kurla) wards. Being in the non-DLP (defect liability period), BMC has paid Rs 12,000 to the contractors to remove the old, missing paver blocks, fill the potholes and place new paver blocks on it. DLP is the minimum time for which BMC holds the contractor liable for all maintenance works on roads.
While residents still express doubts over the civic body’s preparedness in tackling monsoons, BMC is confident of assuring a better rise especially after undertaking repair works for more than 800 roads in the last six months.
“Any agency focusing on capital expenditure is bound to be more efficient in providing quality. We have undertaken huge amount of work and are confident that Mumbaikars will get a better ride this monsoon,” said SVR Srinivas, additional municipal commissioner, in-charge of the roads department.