Mumbai: Private agencies to monitor roads for hazards this monsoon

30 May,2023 07:21 AM IST |  Mumbai  |  Sameer Surve

...while BMC says this will help prevent any untoward accidents caused by broken or missing manhole covers; activists slam civic body for wasting Rs 120 crore

An open manhole at BKC on April 26, 2022; (right) a broken footpath opposite KEM hospital in Parel on September 21, 2018. File pics

The Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) has decided to appoint private agencies to survey each ward and identify hazards, which will be fixed by the civic body ahead of the monsoon. Activists have slammed the BMC for spending money on this exercise and depending on private agencies to do what is arguably the civic body's job.

BMC officials, however, claim that appointing the agencies is in line with a court order.

An official said, "We are appointing an agency for each ward. The agency will identify hazards on the road such as broken manhole covers, damaged chambers of utilities or drains and footpaths. Agency staff will survey roads daily and submit reports to the ward office. After this, we will fix the issues immediately. The BMC will spend around Rs 120 crore on this."

The agency staff will look out for broken manhole covers and damaged chambers of utilities, among other things. Representation Pic

Ulhas Mahale, deputy municipal commissioner, said, "We have decided to appoint agencies as per the court order. This year for the first time we are doing this."
"If we see good results, we will appoint agencies next year too," an official said.

According to a civic official, every year before the monsoon BMC staff change damaged manhole covers. "We have been receiving complaints continuously, especially on our social media pages. There is the possibility of fatal accidents occurring due to broken manhole or chamber covers. Also, they have been causing traffic congestion issues. Regular vigilance can prevent these accidents and traffic congestion," the official stated.

While appreciating the civic authority's attempt to address the problem of citizens, activist Anil Galgali said, "This is the BMC's staff's regular work. Although it's really needed, why are they spending money on private agencies? It's the civic staff's duty to be vigilant and identify hazards."

Advocate Godfrey Pimenta of the organisation Watchdog Foundation raised similar questions. "This is routine work for the BMC. The civic body's staff is not making rounds at wards regularly but now, it is spending money on private contractors," he stated.

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