Mumbai: 'Humiliated' road engineer wants protection from MNS

Chief engineer Sanjay Darade, who was made to pose with a placard that read he was responsible for potholes, has approached BMC chief

Chief engineer (roads) Sanjay Darade (centre) made to hold a placard taking responsibility of potholes on city roads. File pic
Chief engineer (roads) Sanjay Darade (centre) made to hold a placard taking responsibility of potholes on city roads. File pic

After being humiliated by MNS corporators Santosh Dhuri and Sandip Deshpande over the pothole issue, fearing attack from party workers, chief engineer of the civic road department wants protection during inspection of road repair works. Saying that he has to go for inspection of several ongoing works, sometimes even at night, Sanjay Darade has expressed a fear of such an act or attack repeating.

On October 5, two MNS corporators forced Darade to stand on a road in Dadar with a placard reading: ‘I am responsible for potholes’. Citing the rising number of potholes on city roads, the party had even threatened that they would do this again if corrective measures were not taken.

On fast track
According to a source in the road department, Darade has voiced his safety concern before several senior officials and the engineers’ union and prepared a proposal for having a security guard accompany him during his inspections.

When asked about the issue, Darade confirmed the development but refused to comment and said it’s an internal matter.

After facing flak from citizens and corporators, the civic body has set May 2017 as the deadline for completing repairs of 1,004 roads across the city. Repairs of 100 roads worth R70 crore were started yesterday.

Besides this, filling up of potholes too is going on a war footing since last week. Municipal commissioner Ajoy Mehta had given the road department time till Monday to finish fixing potholes. The deadline, however, has been missed as several craters remain as they were.

Security concerns
But even as the massive amount of work started by the civic body goes on, civic officials continue to be a wary lot, afraid that in trying to settle political scores ahead of the BMC election, parties could do anything.

“We have to be careful during our repair works. A lot of places we have to go to are risky, especially at night. Considering all that we have suggested to Darade that he have a security guard along,” said an official from the road department.

Another said, “Darade is one the most efficient and active officers in the civic body. The placard incident has earned him bad publicity. And there is always the threat of a repeat by MNS workers.”

The official added that if there is a problem in providing a security guard, at least a constable should be deployed after consulting the police.

Public humiliation
Two weeks ago, when Darade was in his office at Worli, Deshpande and Dhuri asked Darade to come along to inspect potholed roads in Dadar. After they reached Dadar, Deshpande and Dhuri with other party workers forced him to hold the placard and stand on the road.

Darade had condemned the act and called the incident “humiliating”, saying it was done for cheap publicity. On the day of incident, he had said, “I work more than 15 hours a day and give my best... This has tarnished my image and earned me and my family bad publicity, in spite of doing my job honestly.”

Darade had then filed a complaint at Shivaji Park police station. The engineers union had staged a protest and gone on strike for two days. This had led to action against both corporators, who were arrested by the police and released on bail later.

Inspection time
On Monday, municipal commissioner Ajoy Mehta and chief engineer Sanjay Darade took stock of the ongoing road repair and pothole filling work at SV Road in Bandra, Shraddhanand Road in Vile Parle, NC Phadke Marg in Andheri, and a road in Goregaon. Mehta will visit the eastern suburbs soon too. Yuva Sena chief Aaditya Thackeray, Mayor Snehal Ambekar and Standing Committee Chairman Yashodhar Phanse have also planned to check the progress of the work being carried out.

1,004
Number of roads that will be repaired till next May

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