BMC to charge access fee for digging roads

The civic body has decided to charge Rs 100 per metre of power cable, optical fibres or gas pipes that external utility agencies will work on, after they open up the roads

The Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) has hit upon a new idea to control digging of roads. Authorities have decided to charge agencies by the metre for the cables or pipes they work on. Roads in the city are often known to be excavated for different reasons by different utility organisations to fix power lines, lay down new optical fibre cables by the telephone company, or gas pipes by the gas agency.

After the job is completed, usually the trench is covered up in a superficial way. But, when thousands of vehicles pass over this patched-up road, it creates potholes around the dug-up area. These are called utility trenches. The civic body will now levy an ‘access charge’ on these bodies in an effort to control their activities and hopefully, reduce the number of dug-up stretches in the city.

The BMC had initially asked the agencies to fix the roads after work was completed. It had then withdrawn the policy and started repairing the utility trenches by themselves. But, the problem still persisted. Hence, the BMC has drawn up a proposal to levy an access fee. The proposal will be discussed in the Standing Committee meeting tomorrow.

Authorities also plan to collect and maintain data on how many times work is carried out by an agency and the locations under which the utilities will pass. Civic authorities hope to generate revenue of around Rs 200 crore annually with this charge.

SVR Srinivas, additional municipal commissioner and in-charge of Roads department, said, “We have been planning this move to monitor utility services in a better way. This will help solve trenching problems. But, nothing should be for free. Hence, we will be charging them Rs 100 per metre of the cable or the optical fibre etc. This is the first time an access fee is being charged.”

The Standing Committee, too, is keen on having this system in place. Rahul Shewale, chairman of the committee, said, “This is a good thing as this will help us keep a check on the external utility agencies, which otherwise cause a lot of issues. It will also help BMC earn additional revenue.”

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