Mumbai civic body's meeting to discuss potholes problem ends in blame game

Mumbai: Every year, the residents of Mumbai face the menace of potholes riddled roads- a problem that magnifies every monsoon. Three lives have been lost this year to potholes-related accidents. Thousands of potholes have been reported on Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporations (BMC) website. However, an emergency meeting on Wednesday by BMC's highest decision-making body to discuss the issue quickly dissolved into a political slugfest with members indulging in blame games.

At least 200 new potholes are reported on BMC's pothole tracking website everyday.  The civic body has spent Rs 3800 crore on road maintenance in the last five years. This year, Rs 1000 crore has been allocated for road maintenance, out of which Rs 50 crore has been earmarked for fixing the potholes problem this season. But there is little to show for all the crores spent as the nightmare continues.

The BMC blamed former Additional Municipal Commissioner Aseem Gupta for the pathetic condition of Mumbai's roads. BMC's Standing Committee Chairman, Rahul Shevale, said, "After the pothole problems last year he had the responsibility to come up with an action plan, but that was not implemented. Because he did not take decisions there was a delay. Work orders were not given for four to five months in spite of standing committee clearances. That is why officially we are holding him responsible for this mess."

The opposition was quick to attack the Sena-BJP regime for escaping responsibility. Senior Congress Corporator Pravin Cheda said, "When he (Aseem Gupta) was here they did not have the courage to blame him. After he is gone they are blaming him to hide their own failure. Sometimes they bring cold mix, sometimes hot mix, sometimes patch-maker, sometimes white topping and sometime Carbon core. But the pothole problem has not been solved."

Mumbai Mayor Sunil Prabhu promised that potholes will be repaired within 48 hours of the rains stopping. However with the BMC having broken its pothole-free Mumbai promise many times in the past, Mumbaikars are sceptical about the claim.

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