If you can't fix 'em, map 'em!

Sep 15, 2011, 08:14 IST | Rinkita Gurav

After wasting Rs 57.35 lakh in its failed attempts to plug potholes, the BMC is now planning to pour Rs 60 lakh for a fancy software that will allow commuters to circumvent pothole-ridden routes

After wasting Rs 57.35 lakh in its failed attempts to plug potholes, the BMC is now planning to pour Rs 60 lakh for a fancy software that will allow commuters to circumvent pothole-ridden routes

Imagine the scenario: You buckle up in your car, ready for the rocky commute to work. Instead of grumbling about the civic body's apathy, you whip out your mobile phone, click on an app, and access a map that gives you details about the pothole situation in the city: pothole-ridden stretches are marked in red, smooth stretches (if any) are marked in green, and stretches under repair are marked in yellow.

After a few minutes of brainstorming and head-scratching, you finally figure out a pothole-free route, no matter how circuitous. Precious time and money worth of petrol later, you make it to work, triumphant that you have negotiated a pothole-free route.

This is the future that the BMC has envisioned for you, three years down the line. Instead of focussing its energies and investing its resources to repair the potholes, the civic body has decided to drain its already depleted resources on an expensive (read Rs 60 lakh) and flashy GIS system, that tells you where the potholes are.

This seems to be nothing but an elaborate eyewash designed by the BMC to gull the city's outraged commuters, after the a sum of Rs 57.35 lakh it spent to plug the potholes proved completely and utterly ineffectual.

BMC officials, however, insist that the planned system is aimed at allowing citizens to keep tabs on the damaged roads, and also keep an eye on the efforts made by the municipal body to rectify the same.

Grand plans
The Geographic Information System (GIS) will map the city's streets, and point out the pothole situation in different stretches, which will then be made accessible to citizens on the website. A mobile app will also be made available, which will enable citizens to access the map on their phones. 

Citizens can report potholes online or use their GPS/GPRS based mobile phones for the same. All complaints will be updated and incorporated in the website, after which regular updates will be provided about the action being taken by the BMC to rectify the craters. Citizens can then access the website and acquaint themselves with the areas where potholes would affect their commute, or the stretches where work is underway. The entire project is set to cost an estimated Rs 60 lakh, and will take about three years to implement.

"After people report potholes in a particular stretch, it will be lodged in the system, and a team of engineers will be dispatched to inspect the road. So one can easily find out about pothole-ridden stretches online or through use of GPS/GPRS on a mobile phone, sitting in any part of the city," said an official. The proposal will be presented to a standing committee next week for a clearance, after which a 3-year-long contract will be awarded to Probity Soft Pvt Ltd. The contracted company has been working on a similar project at the Pimpri-Chinchwad Municipal Corporation in Pune for the past year.

>> Chief Engineer (Roads, Bridges and Traffic) S Badve said, "The repair work has been going on, but due to the rains the material is repeatedly washed away. Using this new system, citizens can use the information to figure out their routes. There will be a map on the website, where pothole-ridden roads would be marked in red, the smooth stretches in green, and the road under repair in yellow." He added that in future the system could be used for tracking, reporting and managing matters like garbage collection, drainage, water supply, and dumping, but for the while the civic body would be focussing on the problem of potholes.

>> Speaking of the civic body's utter inability to tackle the pothole situation this year, Standing Committee Chairman Rahul Shewale said, "The potholes are still being repaired, but the city has received a lot of rain this year. The contractors have not been paid completely, as work is going on." 

It is clear that the BMC has failed to do the needful to salvage the pothole situation. The new planned facility seems to be a grievance forum and nothing more. The civic body should focus on keeping the patchwork intact for longer.
� James John, activist

I have GPRS enabled on my phone, but I will never take the trouble of checking which roads have potholes and which don't, to plan my route. Why can't the authority build better roads, rather than wasting time and money on this?
� Milind Mistry, Khar

There are so many potholes in the city, and the route to my college has countless craters.
Do I have to change the only fast route to my classes, so that the corporation does not have to bother with repairing the roads?
� Devika Ghedia, Andheri

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