In the past five years, as much as Rs 253 crore has been spent for the repair of our city’s most resilient entities - potholes.
But motorists and pedestrians alike will agree that the roads have little to show for this eye-popping expense. If the enormity of the figure is lost on you, MiD DAY’s back-of-the-envelope calculations could give you some perspective.
Going by standard rates charged by road contractors, Rs 253 crore could have provided for a 25-km long cement concrete road from Bandra to Dahisar, or a 69-km-long asphalt road connecting Colaba to Nallasopara. The BMC spends roughly Rs 4,000 per sq metre to construct asphalt roads, and Rs 11,000 per sq metre for cement concrete roads (see box).
Had the civic agency sought more foolproof and permanent measures for road repair, the funds used every year for the same task (and with little result) could have otherwise afforded solid, sturdy roads connecting far-flung parts of the city.
“The civic ruling party and administration choose to use the same technology used in foreign countries, applying it to potholes in the city without considering its particular weather and geographical conditions. They have made BMC a laboratory for experimentation,” alleged Dilip Lande, MNS group leader in the house. Figures indicate that the BMC’s expenditure in filling hollows and repairing crumbling roads has been hiked consistently with each passing year.
The civic body has allocated Rs 40 crore in its budget for pothole repair in each of the past three years, later raising the amount to Rs 58 crore, Rs 57 crore and Rs 56 crore respectively.
If you think that is excessive, take a look at this year’s figures: the BMC has set aside Rs 100 crore for road repair in each of the three divisions for pre-monsoon works - the island city, eastern and western suburbs: that makes it a total of Rs 300 crore. In addition to this, Rs 50 crore has been earmarked solely for pothole repair in the monsoons.
Explaining the expenditure, D R Dixit, chief engineer of the BMC’s roads department, said, “We are spending money to repair roads as part of pre-monsoon preparations. It is like pest control in our house.
Our house needs to be pest controlled once every year.” Rahul Shewale, chairman of the standing committee, said, “Of the total 1,740 km of road length, the guarantee period for about 400-500 km expires every year, so we have to do repair work.” Responding to Lande’s allegations, he said, “Technology gets upgraded every year, and if we want to make Mumbai an international city, we have to use upgraded technology for the same.”
Prakash Sanglikar, former deputy municipal commissioner said, “Spending on the same thing every year makes it a recurring expenditure. No other city or country spends this high an amount on pothole repair every year. And despite this, the roads remain just the way they are, with no improvement.
There will be corruption again, whether they spend more money or less. Even if they allot Rs 10 crore, it would be a complete waste. We will see floods again during the rainy season, and people have to float home like they do every year. - Pooja Nair (20)
I don’t think they are going to spend this Rs 300 crore for pre-monsoon work to benefit the public. We can see a lot of bike accidents during the rainy season, caused by potholes, even though so much money is apparently put into their repair. - Chandrakant Khargavkar (57)
The BMC is least bothered about us and hence doesn’t take care of the roads. We all can see the BMC’s shoddy work even a month after the rains. All we can do is hope for better roads, at least this monsoon. - N Z Singh (55)
The common man faces all the problems - no one bothers about our daily commuting issues when there are bad roads filled with potholes. If work is being done, the results definitely cannot be seen. All we need is better administrative vigilance, when so much money is being put in. Why is it so difficult? - Sunil More (38)
We have been facing problems for years, with roads. So it is difficult to digest the BMC’s claim that it has spent over Rs 250 crore on roads in the past five years. The work is so shoddy that it doesn’t even last for a year, and they have to spend a huge sum again for the next year. No preventive measures are taken. And even our elected representatives do not do anything specific for us during monsoons. Instead, they are interested in filling their own pockets. - Amey Desai (24)
We are hopeful that they do the work, as so much money is at stake. With so much being said and written about the BMC, they should do their work properly. Road repair work is going on in some places, so they should do it in the entire city soon. - Milind Chohan (42)
(Inputs by Chetna Yerunkar and Sujith Sudhakaran)