BMC set to spend Rs 4.4 crore a day to fix roads this year

Updated: Feb 10, 2020, 07:36 IST | Prajakta Kasale | Mumbai

But the increased spending is no guarantee that the city will become pothole-free

Workers fill potholes on the road outside Bandra railway station on the east. File pic
Workers fill potholes on the road outside Bandra railway station on the east. File pic

Pothole-free roads continue to elude Mumbaikars despite Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) spending around R3.5 crore/day on construction and repair in the last six years. In the next financial year, BMC plans to spend R1,600 crore on roads (9 per cent more than 2019-20), which works out to R4.4 crore/day.

While the BMC makes financial provisions for several infrastructural projects, it pays more attention to some of the departments like roads, bridges, stormwater drainage and water.

As per official data, the civic body spends more than one-fourth of its funds every year for such projects. In the last six years, except 2016-17, the total expense on roads each year has been more than R1,000 crore. The civic body has spent R28,260 crore on infrastructural projects from March 2014 to December 2019, out of which R7,219 crore (25.5 per cent) was spent on construction of cement concrete roads, asphalt roads, renovation of junctions and resurfacing of roads.

However, even after spending such a huge portion of the funds, the city roads are far from being pothole-free.

Potholes on the road outside Bandra East railway station being filled. File pic
Potholes on the road outside Bandra East railway station being filled. File pic

According to BMC sources, it filled 1,472 potholes in September 2019 under the 'Monsoon Road Potholes Challenge'. However, data further reveals that the civic body plans to spend another R1,600 crore of the taxpayers' money, 9 per cent more than 2019-20, in the upcoming financial year for repair and construction of roads. In other words, it will
spend R4.4 crore each day for the purpose for the whole of the next fiscal year.

Speaking on condition of anonymity, a Road Department official said, "There are multiple reasons why potholes appear on roads. Heavy rain and traffic are not the only ones. Roads have a number of utilities underneath. They are dug up several times and are not filled properly post work. It damages the structure, allows water to penetrate and ultimately results in potholes."

The defect liability period (DLP) for asphalt roads is five years whereas the DLP for cement concrete roads is 10 years. The BMC has introduced a deferred payment system in which 40 per cent of the cost would be dispersed in phases during DLP to ensure the contractors make better roads.

"Being involved in corruption by choosing the same contractors over years, lack of supervision and reluctance to use new technologies are the three major reasons behind the pathetic condition of roads in the city," said activist Nikhil Desai. He added that the civic body does not work to put all the utilities inside one duct so that frequent digging of roads is not necessary.

Rs 7,219 crore
Amount spent on roads from March 2014 to Dec 2019

Expenditure on roads

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