After announcing each ward will fix 9-metre-wide roads in their jurisdiction, BMC fails to provide official instructions to officers
Rs 84 crore has been allocated for work at the ward level. File pic/Sameer Markande
Three weeks ago, the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) had announced that all wards would repair bad patches and potholes on roads that are less than 9-metre in width within their jurisdiction. However, ward officers claim the civic authorities have been tight-lipped about the issue since and haven’t sent any written instructions despite the monsoon being just around the corner. Corporators allege that this is to maintain secrecy on new road contracts being awarded as contractors refused to undertake repair work.
Every year, the 24 ward offices have the responsibility of repairing potholes on all roads in their respective wards, except for cement concrete roads, the roads that are under the defect liability period (DLP) and roads being constructed by contractors. Last year, the ward officers faced the ire of citizens as almost every road developed potholes and the ward offices ran out of material as well as funds allotted for the repairs.
On May 16, Municipal Commissioner Iqbal Singh Chahal announced in a press note, that the ward offices and their respective assistant commissioners would now be accountable for maintaining pothole-free roads that are less than 9-metre-wide. Chahal also instructed all the ward officers to visit roads before the monsoon to check if they are pothole-free. Apart from major roads like highways, the S V Road and Linking Road, a majority of roads less than 9-metre-wide will fall under the jurisdiction of ward offices.
In a press note issued on May 15, P Velarasu, additional municipal commissioner, had instructed the assistant municipal commissioners of 24 wards to identify bad patches of road and to get them repaired by the appointed agency. The BMC also published that it allocated funds amounting to Rs 84 crore to all wards for the work. Velarasu mentioned that the quantity of material allocated is much higher than the demand by ward offices and instructed that all the work is completed within 20 days, before 15 June, as tenders have a work validity period of only 45 days.
The notifications came as the road department of the BMC faces an extensive workload related to road concreting projects worth Rs 6,500 crore. However, three weeks after the notification, no ward has received any written communication about the decision.
“We haven’t received any instructions in writing about the repair of bad patches until now. When we inquired, we got to know that the central road department is doing the work on its own. So the wards have the responsibility of roads up to 6-metre width, which is small gullies that don’t have major traffic,” said a ward officer.
According to another ward officer, until last year, it was the ward’s responsibility to fix potholes and every road, except roads which are under DLP (the contractors have to repair the roads if asphalt roads develop potholes within three years of construction) or roads that are being constructed by contractors. “But now we are out of the picture and relieved,” said the officer.
However, Ravi Raja, former leader of the opposition in the BMC, felt there is something fishy in the shifting of responsibilities from wards to the road department. “This year, the BMC has awarded contracts amounting to R6500 crore for 400 km of roads. Hardly any of this work has started. As per the rules, the contractors have to look after these 400 km of roads, but they refused and are ready to take responsibility only after the monsoon. So the BMC kept the responsibility with the road department,” Raja said.
Municipal Commissioner Iqbal Singh Chahal, Deputy Municipal Commissioner (Infrastructure) Ulhas Mahale and Additional Municipal Commissioner P Velarasu did not respond to mid-day’s queries.
Deadline for fixing roads