Every summer the same story begins with work on hundreds of roads in Mumbai. There is no moral taken from this tale, an unpleasant one that unfolds every monsoon as the work remains incomplete. The political bosses have changed, and so have the senior bureaucrats in the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC). Yet the civic body seems set to offer the same back-breaking, speed-curbing pothole ridden roads to Mumbai this year.
The BMC has just 15 days to finish the road work before it begins to rain. A good one-third of Mumbai’s roads remain in pathetically poor condition due to ongoing work. As per the latest figures, of the 1,200-plus roads where work started, the BMC is yet to finish the repairs on 450-plus roads. It’s a race against time for civic authorities.
This last-moment struggle to meet deadlines is one of the vital reasons behind the shoddy finished product we get. It is a known fact that the contractors end up doing what is known in our beloved city’s lingo as ‘thook patti’ — hasty patch work — just to meet deadlines and evade fines from the BMC. The end result? Serpentine traffic snarls irritating the wits out of many a motorist, apart from the wastage of man hours and fuel, thanks to the numerous crater-sized potholes that crop up on these roads.
The western suburbs are likely to be hit the most, with 200 road locations yet to be levelled. This is followed by the island city, with work pending on 130 roads and then the eastern suburbs, where 120 roads need repairs.
The government machinery needs to buck up, especially if they want to put up a good show in the forthcoming BMC elections. Shoddy work shouldn’t be tolerated, and the BMC should ensure that not only the work is completed, but also that the finished work remains intact, especially when it pours for four months. The unbearable heat now is already forcing people to pray to the Rain God. But soon, when these prayers are answered, they become a curse due to our stellar roads and their thousands of potholes.
Will this year be any different?