Photographs By: Vishwanath Salian, Sushil and Azad Shrivastava
These potholes are deep pockets for contractors
The rain (the authorities insist) are not good for Mumbai’s roads. The more rain, the worse the state of the roads. So it stands to reason that last year the roads stayed very good indeed, right? Actually, you would be wrong.
In May this year, the BMC claimed to have spent SIX TIMES the amount that it did on road repairs in the city following the July 2005 deluge. A whopping Rs 100 crore, which is higher than any amount spent on roads annually in the last decade. They said that private contractors spent two-thirds of this amount and the rest was spent by ward level contractors.
After July 26, 2005, when Mumbai went under water, the BMC said it spent Rs 18 crore. When in danger of being caught out, it’s any excuse in a rainstorm. Apparently, a chief engineer, roads and bridges, is reported to have explained how this happened. This year, the MMRDA has handed over 14 roads to the BMC. All of them were in very bad condition. Due to this, in spite less rainfall, the BMC ended up spending more money. All this was said with a straight face.
There is more. Every year, civic officials count the potholes that need filling. Last year, however, they decided against it calling it “an irrational exercise”. This year, the BMC bunched potholes together and called them trenches, thus bringing the numbers down to one fourth. It also means that the whole of Mumbai’s roads can be designated one long trench, except for those areas where rich people and the legislators live.
Now the BMC has appointed 23 contractors to repair potholes at a cost of which will be Rs 40 crore.