A Right to Information (RTI) application filed by a BJP MLA has revealed that the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation has spent more than Rs 21,000 crore on the repair, maintenance and construction of new roads in little over two decades.
The reply said that maximum money- Rs 3,201 crores were spent just in one year between 2013 and 2014. It is immediately after this, that the infamous road scam had come to light, raising questions over the expenditure.
Taking a cue from a Times Of India report on potholes, BJP MLA from Andheri, Ameet Satam had filed a plea seeking a response on the expense incurred on fixing potholes in Mumbai. Satam said the BMC in its road department had spent more than Rs 21,000 crore since 1997.
Satam further said, “Bad roads are among the most pressing problems in this city, yet their condition has not changed for decades. There are multiple reasons for this, one being lack of coordination between multiple utility agencies and the BMC. So, when a road is newly made, the very next year it is dug for laying of cables.”
“Another problem is that no major road construction company comes forward to take up works as the tender size is very small for them (anywhere between Rs 1 crore and Rs 6 crore). Secondly, they are hesitant as they feel they may have to grease palms at multiple levels,” he added.
Case of missing potholes
The potholes have once again slowed the lives of the ever-in-a-hurry Mumbaikars. The BMC’s pothole tracking system says Mumbai roads have a just little over 500 craters, negating the existence of something visible to the naked eye on every turn. The pothole system also claims 307 of the 520 craters have already been repaired, inviting a backlash.
Early this month, the BMC was also trolled by the netizens for claiming that only eleven potholes remain in the city.
I have quarantined all the potholes in Mumbai. Now only 11 left. pic.twitter.com/sRpJIN0165— Jiten Gajaria (@jitengajaria) July 12, 2021
Mumbaikars are forced every monsoon to incessantly Tweet pictures of potholes tagging the BMC to bring their attention to something that is seemingly visible even from a great height and distance.
#MumbaiRains: Massive potholes at Mumbai’s Dahisar cause heavy traffic congestion on the Western Express Highway.#MumbaiRains #MaharashtraFlood #WeatherUpdate— The Weather Channel India (@weatherindia) July 27, 2021
(📸: Kaushik Naik/BCCL-Mumbai) pic.twitter.com/HkxxKdxrM3
“The civic body has its ward level teams that are expected to move around. They should ensure that a pothole or any bad road patch in their ward is filled once they notice it,” said Dhaval Shah of Andheri Lokhandwala Residents’ Association.
“The incessant rain is exposing the quality of work done by the BMC so far. Two days back the entire road surface of a connecting bridge between SV Road and Mrinaltai Gore flyover near Ram Mandir was washed out and now the authorities have opened it for traffic after making it more like a kuccha road,” he added.
BJP attacks Shiv Sena
Taking a jibe at Shiv Sena leader Sanjay Raut who wanted Mumbai’s rich to donate for relief work, BJP MLA Ashish Shelar said, “BMC spent Rs.21,000 crores via its favorite contractors to build (Pothole) filled Road works for Mumbaikars in 20+yrs, per RTI! Will BMC Crorepati/Billionaire Road contractors respect SS Leader’s appeal & donate Rs 1,000 crore for Maharashtra??”
🐯 BMC spent Rs.21,000 crores via its favorite contractors to build (Pothole) filled Road works for Mumbaikars in 20+yrs , per RTI !— Adv. Ashish Shelar – ॲड. आशिष शेलार (@ShelarAshish) July 28, 2021
Will 🐯 BMC Crorepati/Billionaire Road contractors respect 🐯 SS Leader’s appeal & donate Rs 1,000 crore for Maharashtra ?? !
BMC post pictures of shoddy work
The BMC Twitter handles had to face the wrath of the citizens time and again for putting up shoddy “fixed” pictures of potholes.
More often than not, the citizens comment saying they find no difference in the before and after images.
Sir, Your complaint has been attended by our team. Please check the photograph attached herewith. pic.twitter.com/OUImtV4Wl6— Ward HW BMC (@mybmcWardHW) July 24, 2021
It is evident from the images that the mix used to fix the potholes does not survive even a single spell of rain.
The said complaint is attended. See the compliance photos attached herewith. pic.twitter.com/kxdF3ikgKB— WARD S BMC (@mybmcWardS) July 28, 2021
However, defending its work, Metropolitan Commissioner S V R Srinivas said, “We have a proper machinery in place and our team repairs the potholes as and when required. If at all there are any potholes or uneven road surfaces they will be repaired when we get dry spells.”