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Road cave-ins must be averted

It has become almost run-of-the-mill to read about pothole-related mishaps. Motorists and pedestrians alike have become virtually inured to the inconvenience, hardship and even injury caused by bad roads and crater-like potholes. There is an even worse menace afoot — the roads themselves are caving in and collapsing.

In 2008, a road cave-in at Jacob Circle near Mahalaxmi took three lives. Another similar cave-in happened on the same road in April 2009, making it the third such incident in the Saat Rasta area and the sixth in South Mumbai in four years.

This year, in May, a four-metre-long portion of August Kranti Marg, opposite Cumballa Hill Hospital near Kemps Corner caved in. In August, a water pipeline burst caused a similar collapse on the ‘VIP road’ connecting Girgaum Chowpatty with Marine Drive.

Yesterday, a busload of school children were at severe risk when the rear wheel of the bus went over a manhole that collapsed. The reason is always the same — leakage in underground utilities like water pipelines, sewer lines or storm water drains. The leak weakens the underground sand, leading to formation of a cavity and a resultant cave-in.

This is apparently an ongoing problem, and needs to be tackled at an institutional level, city-wide. Unfortunately the knee-jerk reaction to citizens’ woes is to point the finger at someone else, preferably in a different department. The result is generally the same — citizens and media alike are given the runaround, and none of the departments supposed to be involved come up with a comprehensive solution.

Surely we cannot go on like this. There are difficulties in practically every aspect of city life — at least let us ensure that the ground beneath our feet remains firm! 

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