Back-breaking roads riddled with potholes are an open secret in Mumbai. But the road department of the BMC is least bothered. In the last five years, it failed to spend Rs997 crore earmarked for maintaining Mumbai’s roads and making them a motorist’s delight.
Over the last five years, the BMC allocated Rs4,379 crore to repair roads pitted with potholes.
What’s unpardonable is that of the allocated amount, the roads department spent only Rs3,382 crore, most of it only on paper. Several works are yet to be implemented.
“There are so many roads which haven’t been taken up for repair for years. Road surfacing work has not even started this year. Usually, it is done immediately after the monsoon. But so far there is no indication of even work orders being given,” said a senior roads department official.
Civic sources said the callous attitude of engineers of the roads department has allowed contractors to undertake work on the same road more than once even when the stretch is under the defect liability period. During this period, the contractor has to repair the road for free in case it gets damaged. “Instead, work is charged and contractors mint money at taxpayers’ expense. The present condition of roads tells the story. Even this year, tenders were floated as late as March and July instead of in December 2012. How can one expect better roads?” sources asked.
Additional municipal commissioner SVR Srinivas admitted that there were flaws in the system.
But he assured to rectify them. He told dna that henceforth, capital for road works will be planned and designed during the monsoon and executed immediately in October.
Srinivas said the civic administration is coming up with a ‘master plan’ for all roads. “The plan for the next 3-4 years is tailor-made for each road and area. Contractors will have enough time to line-up their machines and plan and execute work,” he said.
Srinivas said the administration attempts to allocate work during the year. But there are delays as the process is lengthy. The additional municipal commissioner said the civic administration has tried to bring in new reforms in the tender process as well. “The BMC tried to break the contractor cartel in the BMC, but it only delayed the process.”
“Several contractors took the issue to court. For example, e-tender system was introduced to bring in greater transparency, but it did not go down well with the contractors. There were several ad hoc decisions being taken without proper consultations. This delayed work further. Tender notices are also not issued on time. But we have decided to plan everything well in advance to prevent delays,” Srinivas said.
At least 29,000 potholes have been reported in the city between June and August by the pothole tracking system.