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mid-day editorial: We must hold PWD to its promise

Mumbai’s monsoon bogey, potholes have started mushrooming on the roads once again, and we are only in the first flush of the rains. A report in this paper yesterday exposed the Public Works Department’s (PWD) hollow claim that they have done impeccable pre-monsoon work. The pictures that accompany the report show the pockmarked state of the Western Express Highway (WEH) between Dahisar and Bandra, even though it has not even been one month since repairs were undertaken there at the cost of Rs 2 crore.

That such reports do not even provoke surprise is a sorry comment on the state of our roads and people’s lack of faith in the authorities. Instead, there is a sense of déjà vu. Although citizens have been let down year after year, this kind of attitude will not help. We must not allow the authorities to get away with such shoddy work just because this is what we are used to. We must expect and demand better.

And, it’s time that the PWD swings into action and tackles the problem instead of making excuses. Once again, this must not be a patchwork job; the contractors must be ordered to use high quality, solid material to ensure lasting repairs. The authorities might claim that they have to wait for the rainfall to subside before they can start working on the potholes, but they cannot expect people to suffer quietly till then. They have to find a solution. If they had not messed up the job in the first place, there would be no need for mid-monsoon repairs anyway.

Then, of course, comes the all-important follow-up and promise of action against those who have bungled the initial work itself. This is a neglected aspect and, despite pressure, those responsible for low quality work have been allowed to get away with it, repeatedly.

Most importantly, we must let the rain wash away our resignation and laid-back acceptance of potholes as an unavoidable by product of the rains and adopt a zero-tolerance policy towards such sub-standard work that wastes taxpayers’ money.

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