Mumbai can’t have the roads it does, says municipal commissioner Ajoy Mehta

Mumbai can’t have the roads it does, says municipal commissioner Ajoy Mehta

Monsoon having arrived, Mumbai’s municipal commissioner Ajoy Mehta details his plans for better roads, covered drains with green belts around them and on tackling the contractor lobby.

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Mumbai’s municipal commissioner Ajoy Mehta.

Kavitha Iyer: Ahead of monsoon, there is a sense that the contractor lobby is arm-twisting the BMC by not participating in important tenders following the crackdown on the road repair scam and de-silting scam. Do contractors run the BMC?

For 450 km of minor nullahs, in spite of calling for tenders three times after starting the process in November, we didn’t get a response. Since the contractors didn’t come, we decided to get our ward officers and NGOs’ labourers to do the cleaning work.

Vishwas Waghmode: For pothole filling also, tenders were invited three times but there was only a single response. Why is that?

Yes, there was no response. But I would look at it as a change in the system. We have made the system very transparent and very different from what it was earlier. Now, maybe they may not bid this year, but next year even they would find that it is much better to work in this system than the earlier one. Here you know what you’re going to get paid for and that you need not be worried about trying to manage something since the systems are more transparent. Whenever there is a change, there is an adaptability issue. So maybe they are still adapting to this change and I’m sure next time they will come in because this is the system which is going to be in place now. We must have parallel systems. There is a churn. Let me hope that they will come around and understand that this is the way we will do it.


Arita Sarkar: Last weekend, a list of spots likely to be flooded due to dumping of garbage was given out by the civic administration. Corporators said the administration is defensive because desilting has not been done properly. Isn’t there a better solution?

This time, I have been touring while the nullah cleaning work was on to see exactly what was happening. One permanent solution is to cover the nullahs in a manner that in case there is a problem we can open it up and clean. We have just finished discussions on a plan to use semi-circular shaped coverings for nullahs like the ones along a small stretch of Western Express Highway. The covering is curved so cannot be encroached, is closed so things don’t get thrown in, and a bolt and nut system allows it to be opened when needed. Secondly, we can train the nullah with a concrete wall for better flow. We are drawing up a plan on how fast we can do this.

One part of it would be to create a green zone along the nullah by moving the hutments which have come up across the nullahs.

Sandeep Ashar: Consultants designed the BRIMSTOWAD project in the 1990s and today we’re still not at the 50 mm per hour draining capacity it recommended. Is there now a need to redesign it?

Wth climate change, we are going to have the same amount of rainfall in lesser number of days. It is bound to lead to flooding and various problems. A fresh study is not required immediately but the compliance must be stricter, to ensure that nullah cleaning is done, the pumps are operated, the pumping stations that are supposed to come along the east coast are built.

Mohammed Thaver: The police recently arrested more than 15 people in the roads scam. Is there any information shared about engineers who are suspected to be involved? Will seniors including top officers face the heat?

We conducted a detailed inquiry into the lapses, with evidence collected. All the evidence has been handed over to the police. The police would know how go about it. How to do that is something I will not get into. Let me tell you that inquiry and the action will spare nobody. That’s for sure. Anybody who is at fault.
This is something which is unpardonable. Mumbai cannot have the roads it has.

Vishwas Waghmode: The roads department has sought to pay contractors involved in the Rs 352 crore scam. What does that mean?

What happened earlier is that some payments were made, and that is why this case has come. As far as future payments are concerned, we made it very clear that until the police inquiry is over no future payments will be made for these roads. But then also remember, there are ongoing works. Today, these works are being executed. If that works are being executed correctly, then these payments can’t be denied.

Smita Nair: Many towers are being built across the city. Does the civic body have a plan in place other than the DP to handle the pressure on civic infrastructure in coming years?


We are taking two or three long term decisions now. One is that we cannot keep transporting garbage all the way to Deonar or Mulund. We must develop localized garbage management and have 24 garbage management centres to process in the ward itself. Other things is debris. Any development in city means demolishing the old building or slums in city. Next big worry in Mumbai is debris. For debris, a tender will be floated in a month to process it into building material. Infrastructure rarely moves ahead of the need. This time around we are saying lets see if infrastructure can be one step ahead.

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