Mumbai: BMC finds shoddy pothole repairs in only three out of 24 wards

Aug 19, 2015, 14:27 IST | Tanvi Deshpande

Samples from Hindmata, Dadar, Parel, Worli, Mahim and Sion, which are areas prone to waterlogging, did not test positive for use of sub-standard material

The civic body on Tuesday fined five contractors Rs 39 lakh for shoddy pothole repairs in the suburbs this monsoon. However, the use of shoddy material was found only in three of 24 wards, excluding those from where the highest number of potholes have been reported so far.

After the June 19 rains, Municipal Commissioner Ajoy Mehta had directed civic officials to collect samples of material used for pothole repair and have them tested. FILE PIC
After the June 19 rains, Municipal Commissioner Ajoy Mehta had directed civic officials to collect samples of material used for pothole repair and have them tested. FILE PIC

The BMC's pothole tracking website voiceofcitizen.com has reported 3,088 potholes this year of which 2,765 have been repaired.

After the June 19 rains, Municipal Commissioner Ajoy Mehta had directed officials to collect samples of material used for pothole repair and have it tested.

Thus, random samples were collected from the godowns of contractors from all 24 wards in July, which were tested at the BMC's laboratory in Worli. According to a statement issued by the civic body on Tuesday, samples collected in only three of the 24 wards did not have the necessary bitumen content. This content is supposed to be seven to 10 per cent of the total asphalt mixture and, in these three cases, turned out to be less than seven per cent.

These include samples from N ward (consisting of Ghatkopar and Vikhroli), K West (Andheri West) and R Central wards (parts of Kandivli and Borivli).

Surprisingly, samples from wards consisting of Hindmata, Dadar, Worli, Mahim and Sion areas, which are the usual victims of potholes every monsoon, did not test positive. Even areas like Malad, Bandra, Andheri (East) which reported the highest number of potholes this season passed the test, raising questions about the arbitrary nature of the testing.

"I am surprised the contractor who did pothole maintenance in Malad was not fined. Both Malad east and west have reported a very high number of potholes this year," said Roma D'Mello, a resident of Malad west.

At least one of the five contractors fined is a repeat offender. M/s Bharat Construction and Shaunak Infrastructure, M/s Kamla Construction and Wonder Technology, M/s Konark Infra Pvt Ltd, M/s Yogesh Construction and Akash Infrastructure have been fined for failing the bitumen test and flouting other norms. For work done in the city's zone VII, Kamal Enterprises and Shaunak Infra have to pay (combined) R8 lakh, and for work done in zones IV and VI, Yogesh Constructions and Shaunak Infra have been fined R8 lakh each. The others have been fined between R1 lakh and R8 lakh. Of these, Shaunak Infra has been accused of substandard work even in the past.

Civicspeak
When asked why these contractors are not blacklisted, chief engineer (Roads and Traffic) Ashok Pawar said, "These are only random samples. Based on one sample, we can't say the entire material is bad. The test we have done right now is only done in the monsoon. But the local ward offices keep testing material and when samples are found consistently sub-standard, then they propose for a contractor to be blacklisted."

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