This is small solace for harried commuters, but the countless craters on the city roads don’t discriminate between a common man and a lawmaker -- both are tossed around with equal disdain. Precisely the reason why you may find yourself seated next to Varsha Tembwalkar -- chairperson of the P-south (Goregaon) ward committee, Manisha Chaudhary --head of the R-central (Borivli) ward committee, former mayor Shubha Raul -- who represents Dahisar ward, or Anuradha Pednekar--representing Kurla ward, on a local train one of these days.
Put off by the pothole menace on the roads, at least 30 of the city’s 227 corporators have been banking on Mumbai’s lifeline this monsoon to ensure they reach office on time. Interestingly, in 2010, then Congress councillor Baldevsingh Manku from Mamlatdar Wadi in Malad had demanded the civic body provide first class railway passes for local trains to all corporators.
Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) has spent over Rs 253 crore in the last five years just to patch up potholes during monsoon season. The civic body makes a budgetary provision for fixing roads before and during monsoon. In the previous three years, BMC allocated an initial amount of Rs 40 crore every time for plugging potholes, which later escalated to Rs 58 crore, Rs 57 crore and Rs 56 crore respectively. This fiscal year, the corporation has decided to keep aside Rs 58 crore for the purpose.
“Even after spending crores of rupees to fix the craters, we cannot rely on BMC roads and take the local trains to reach south Mumbai,” said Khursange, a Nationalist Congress Party member, who represents Borivli’s Daulat Nagar and Nancy Colony ward.
Tembwalkar has been provided an official vehicle by the corporation, but prefers to travel by locals. “Whenever I got stuck in ward meetings and had to reach head office in an hour, I took a train,” she confessed to MiD DAY, adding that a journey from Goregaon to CST by road takes 2.30-3 hours, while a train trip to south Mumbai requires only an hour. Manisha Chaudhary too has been given a vehicle by BMC, takes the train. “Instead of spending 3 to 4 hours going from Borivli to CST by road, I go by train and ask for my vehicle at the station to get home,” said Chaudhary.
Former mayor Shubha Raul concurs. “I always opt for local trains as this way I save on a lot of travel time.”