Potholed Mumbai seeks its culprits

Potholed Mumbai seeks its culprits

By VINAYA DESHPANDE | SRINAGAR | 16 July, 2016
People take shelter from rains in Mumbai on 20 June. IANS
From photo exhibition of Mumbai potholes to “selfie with potholes” competitions, irate Mumbaikars are out in support of every measure that draws the authorities’ attention to the horrible condition of the city’s roads. A complaint to the Lokayukta has already led to the arrest of some Municipal Corporation of Greater Mumbai (MCGM) officials and contractors. A Special Investigation Team has also been formed by the Mumbai Police to look into the massive Rs 354 Crore scam in the making and repairing of various stretches of roads in the financial capital of India.
Meanwhile, the Bombay High Court has taken suo motu cognisance of the plight of Mumbaikars due to hundreds of pothole-ridden roads. It recently directed the MCGM to publish the mobile numbers of MCGM road engineers, so people can directly complain to them about the potholes in their area.
 Meanwhile, the opposition parties have taken on the BJP-Shiv Sena coalition and the MCGM.
“There is an unholy nexus between the corporators, the contractors and the MCGM officials. The conditions are set to favour certain contractors. There are attempts to save the contractors. This nexus has to break,” MNS leader Sandeep Deshpande said. Congress leader Nitesh Rane organised a photo exhibition this week. He told journalists that he was upset about the corporation declaring very few potholes in the city. “The corporation announced that there were only 66 potholes in the entire city according to their survey. So I said, let me see which city are they talking about. I asked our party workers to count some potholes in their area. According to the preliminary counting, they found over 450 potholes. So I decided to put out a photo exhibition. I invited the corporation officials and the politicians. I thought, let me help them find out where the potholes are,” he said sarcastically.
 Various local media campaigns are being run appealing to citizens to click selfies with potholes. The horrible road conditions have led to massive traffic snarls, accidents and related woes for people. Doctors have said that bad road conditions can cause spinal injuries to riders and drivers.
Meanwhile, the Mumbai Police have formed a Special Investigation Team to look into the massive scam of Rs 354 crore for awarding road contracts. The police have arrested two MCGM engineers and some contractors. Demand has been rising to put behind bars the owners and directors of firms which carry out contracting work. “This process began in April. Several complaints were lodged in MCGM. So the Commissioner appointed a committee to look into the complaints. It found out that six contractors who were given contracts for roads were at fault. A preliminary report was submitted by the committee members regarding the fraud. In all, 34 roads were inspected. According to primary reports, the committee members found that the contractors and MCGM officials had looted the corporation for Rs 10.5 crore. An FIR was registered on 27 April in the Azad Maidan police station,” RTI activist Anil Galgali told The Sunday Guardian. He had approached the Lokayukta with complaints about the fraud. Thereafter, the Lokayukta ordered probe which led to arrest of two MCGM engineers. One of them was the chief engineer of MCGM.
 “Already FIRs have been lodged against six of the contractors who have been found guilty of shoddy works. But again, not learning from any of their past mistakes, BMC has gone ahead and awarded contracts to two of the six accused contractors, M/s RPS Infra Projects and M/s J Kumar works at Hackock Yari Road, Mithi River and Vikroli Flyover. Then, BMC has also managed to help them get listed as one of the party to fill in the tender for the ambitious Rs 1,300 crore project of the Goregaon Mulund link road. I complained to the Maharashtra Lokayukta Justice (retd) M.L. Tahaliyani to order to inquire into the entire episode and initiate action on the BMC and its officials responsible for creating such a mess,” he said.
Mumbai Police have arrested the road department’s Chief Engineer Ashok Pawar (57) and Vigilance Department Chief Engineer Uday Murudkar (55). Officials said that more arrests were likely in the matter.

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