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Which way is Rs7,000 crore going? Minister to hit the road to find out

Thursday, 8 May 2014 - 6:05am IST | Place: Mumbai | Agency: dna

Despite the BMC pumping in crores for road repair work, Mumbaikars have to bear with shoddy roads and potholes throughout the year, thanks to the nexus between corrupt contractors and civic officials. With the Shiv Sena-BJP-ruled corporation chalking out an ambitious Rs7,000-crore master plan to improve the quality of roads, the Congress-led state government has decided to inspect the BMC's projects in the wake of repeated complaints from citizens.

Minister of state for urban development Uday Samant told dna that he will personally monitor the road repair work instead of relying on reports from civic officials. If the minister is able to unearth a scam, it is likely to spark tensions between the Congress-NCP and the saffron alliance, which has been ruling the corporation for 18 years. It would become a major issue for the assembly elections to be held in October.

Samant, however, ruled out that he was taking the initiative because of the upcoming polls. "My visit has nothing to do with the elections... The people of Mumbai deserve better roads. I want to find out if the BMC is oriented towards the contractors or citizens," he said. The minister held a meeting of road department engineers last week and instructed them to ensure quality work. "He asked officials from the state PWD and BMC's quality control cell to accompany him during his visits. Samant will report to CM Prithviraj Chavan, who heads the urban development ministry," a BMC source said.

The Shiv Sena, however, dismissed the criticism against the corporation and blamed the state government for not maintaining roads which come under its jurisdiction. "Samant should first visit the Eastern and Western Express Highway which are maintained by the government before inspecting the city's roads," said Shiv Sena corporator and standing committee chairman Yashodhar Phanase.

The corporation is tasked with the maintenance of close to 2,000km of roads and under its master plan, it plans to improve all streets in a span of three years. In 2014-15 alone, it intends to spend Rs3,000 crore because of which more than 1,000 roads have been dug up for repair and concretisation.

As reported by dna earlier, the BMC could not carry out road repair work at all in the eastern suburbs in 2012-13 following a legal battle between two contractors, J Kumar and Supreme Company. The government had to subsequently face a volley of questions in the last session of the legislature.

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