MCGM is not counting and measuring the number of potholes, but is focusing on 'repairing' them wherever they are! CW reports.
Mumbai's potholes have been a never-ending menace. Year after year, the city witnesses a slew of pothole-related accidents and deaths; some are recorded while many go unrecorded. This year seems to be no different. However, according to a Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) report on pothole status released on September 29, last year, out of 4,599 potholes, 4,563 were attended to while only 36 remain to be addressed. When asked about the number of potholes the city recorded this year, Vijay Singhal, Additional Municipal Commissioner-Eastern Suburb, Municipal Corporation of Greater Mumbai (MCGM), says, 'This year, we are not counting or measuring the number of potholes. Instead, we are repairing the potholes wherever they are.'
The BMC had reportedly taken up 1,032 Priority I and II roads before the onset of the monsoon, depending upon the urgency of repair needed. 'This year, we have got a pothole-fixing material from Austria and Israel - 19 tonne from Austria and another 19 tonne from Israel,' adds Singhal. 'This is the latest technology tried and tested in Mumbai as well. We can fix the potholes even during the rains, just by laying the material immediately.' The civic body is known to have bought the 38 tonne of material for Rs 70 lakh. However, even though the cold-mix pothole fillers seem to be lasting in rains as well as heavy traffic, the BMC has imported only a small quantity, which will not be enough for the entire city, reportedly owing to its high cost. Moreover, it is known that the BMC will save 20 per cent of the imported pothole-fixing material for Ganesh Chaturthi, the period when it receives the maximum number of complaints about bad roads.
Addressing the issue, Singhal says, 'Metro work in Mumbai is ongoing on a large scale and issues are faced during construction.
But we are asking metro companies to fill the potholes; they are doing it. Also, trenching permission has to be given in case of an emergency; during trenching, there are some issues that lead to potholes.'
That said, he adds, 'We have started maintenance of various roads. About 700-800 roads have been repaired last year; these are of high quality and have no potholes. And another 1,500-1,600 roads, for which work had been awarded last year, had to be stopped because of the rains. The contractors for these roads were told to ensure they are in workable condition for running traffic. Work for these will commence from October 1. Further, in about 15 days (from the date of publishing), a work order will be given for another 800 roads, work on which will again commence from October 1 onwards. So, I cannot say there is no pothole on the 2,400 roads û the 1,600 + 800 roads. The larger issue is whether there are potholes on the roads repaired and maintained last year.'
While the BMC believes the materials imported from Austria and Israel are of better quality, with no time required for curing, Mumbai is yet to overcome the never-ending pothole menace. Nevertheless, Sehgal assures us, 'This is a road year. So we have taken up repair and maintenance of several roads.'
If not the corporation, the city is definitely counting potholes. And, while technologies are being put to use, its success in making Mumbai pothole-free remains in question.
- SERAPHINA D'SOUZA
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