Bhujbal's last-ditch attempt to fix roads

Published: Nov 17, 2011, 07:24 IST | Ravikiran Deshmukh |

With elections to the civic body nearing, PWD minister Chhagan Bhujbal gives 14 days to fill up potholes on several stretches, and prohibits leaves till deadline

With elections to the civic body nearing, PWD minister Chhagan Bhujbal gives 14 days to fill up potholes on several stretches, and prohibits leaves till deadline

The next two weeks could well decide the fate of some of Mumbai's most deplorable, pockmarked roads, with PWD Minister Chhagan Bhujbal promising to fill up the potholes that scar them by November 30. Roads that seem likely to get facelifts include expressways on the Western and Eastern side of the metropolis, as well as the Ghatkopar-Mankhurd Link Road.

Bumpy ride: Critics have argued that the new initiative appears to be a
last minute attempt by the NCP leader to mollify angry commuters, in the
run up to the BMC elections in February. FILE PIC

Strict instructions
In a high profile meeting with officials held on Tuesday, Bhujbal passed a stern injunction to his subordinates to address the perennial pothole issue, threatening dire consequences in case of inaction. To prove that he meant business, he declared that any official or engineer involved in the project would not be allowed to go on leave or move out of the headquarters till the approaching deadline was crossed. He also cautioned that any lapse in the dispensation of duties would invite departmental action, amounting to suspension. 

At the meeting Bhujbal directed engineers in his department to construct quality roads in future, instructing them to use the latest technology to ensure superior work. He also announced that a special training session for the concerned engineers would commence on January 1, 2012.

The meeting was attended by senior officials from Mumbai, Thane, Raigad, Ratnagiri and Sidhudurg. Bhujbal instructed that private players engaged in road construction on build-operate- transfer scheme (BOT) would have to undertake repair work.

11th-hour plan
Sources however, have been quick to point out that the sudden display of zeal comes days ahead of the declaration of the 2012 election programme for the civic body, and reeks of desperation to woo an electorate before the election code of conduct sets in, preventing political leaders from declaring any new ventures or initiatives.

Moreover, the programme starts a good one-and-half months after the retreat of the monsoons, and as such is grossly delayed. The directive is also significant for the fact that NCP, Bhujbal's party, has been aggressively campaigning for more power in the ranks of the BMC, Thane Municipal Corporation and other civic bodies.

As such, the directives, coming days before the imminent announcement of the pre-election lockdown, clearly showed the party's desperation to mollify and irate electorate, which has suffered troublesome commutes on rain-ravaged roads for months.

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