Pothole politics between BJP and Sena: Whoever wins, Mumbai loses

Well, the topography of Mumbai has not changed overnight, nor have the rains suddenly decided to come down heavily.

 |  5-minute read |   24-07-2018
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If you mention the word ‘pothole’ in front of Mumbaikars, it will probably send a shiver down their spine.

Since the onset of the monsoon around a month ago, Mumbai has become a victim of this “man-made disaster”. The culprits are not the citizens of Mumbai, but the ones who are supposed to take care of them.

The blame rests on the BMC (Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation) and those who were elected in a majority by the people to represent them — the Shiv Sena and the BJP.

All three have failed to discharge their duties, so to escape their misdoings; they have started to blame each other and everything that may have a minuscule connection in relation to potholes.

The major reason for the cause of potholes is the shoddy and sub-standard work carried out by the contractors assigned by the BMC to make roads in our city.

Whether it is repairing or re-laying a road, these contractors have failed miserably. The quality of material and the technical expertise required are not up to the mark, therefore, as soon as it starts raining, the materials used to make the roads get washed away - and all you then find is potholes everywhere.

The BMC says that it has blacklisted contactors who have been found guilty of executing bad works, but what they are actually doing is reportedly taking these people out of one area of contract and giving them a new contract for another project.

The prime example reported in many newspapers and on official records is of a company that was banned by them for seven years and also indicted in the Rs 350 crore road scam.

This company was reportedly later given a Rs 1,300-crore Metro 2A project.

Another example is of two companies that were blacklisted for six years because they allegedly submitted fake bills for work that they had not executed between 2005 and 2009.

It was also reported that they achieved this in connivance with BMC officials.

These two companies approached the civic authorities to reduce their ban from six years to four years, reportedly so they could bid for new contracts up for grabs.

To make things shamelessly worse, they apparently asked for the ban to be reduced further by two months because it was overlapping with the bidding dates of the new contract.

The panel of two deputy municipal commissioners asked to review the plea of these contractors ended up awarding them the reduction of the blacklisting period, citing the reason for this as “merit in consideration of their past good work”.

So, the definition of 'good work' according to the two-member panel was apparently presenting ‘fake bills’ and accepting money for work not done! This is how the administration of the BMC has been working — an unholy nexus between them and shady contractors.

pothole_072418020157.jpgThere are only holes: All three bodies have dismally failed to discharge their duties (Photo: India Today)

Now, when you question the powers that run this civic administration for all these issues, they start blaming each other and also play mind games. The mayor has already played safe by blaming the metro for damaging the storm water drains, but the cadre of the Shiv Sena and their corporators or spokespersons took the excuse narrative to a ridiculous level.

They have also started playing ‘pothole politics’. When questioned on the condition of pothole-strewn roads, they say that roads with no potholes come under our purview; the ones that have them belong to the Maharashtra government.

But the fact is, these two parties are allies and equally responsible. They may not be together in the BMC, but the BJP very famously boasted that they will play the role of ‘watchdogs’ and make sure the Shiv Sena does their job correctly.

Instead of doing what they said they would, the BJP failed to keep a check and is now putting all the blame on the administration and the Shiv Sena.

When they were presented with facts and questions were raised, the spokespersons and those in office came up with more ridiculous answers.

The BJP added a topping called ‘topography’ on our problems called ‘potholes’.

They started talking about the 'topography' of Mumbai and said that since the city is made up of seven islands, there are low-lying areas which lead to flooding. Another excuse is that there have been unprecedented rains this time around.

Really?

Well, the topography of Mumbai has not changed overnight, nor have the rains suddenly decided to come down heavily. The truth is, for the twenty-plus years that these two parties have been running the BMC, they never studied the topography, nor the rains, because they were seemingly busy strengthening an “unholy nexus” with contractors.

Now that they find themselves cornered by citizens' voices and questions from the opposition, they have started to look for excuses.

We all need to understand that the problems we face in Mumbai during the monsoons, be it potholes or flooding, will continue as long as the political parties at the helm of the civic administration continue serving themselves — instead of serving us.

They have not only betrayed the ones who voted for them, but others too because, once elected, they should serve all citizens.

It is now upon all of us to decide whether we should continue like this, or make a change for a better tomorrow.

Also read: Why Centre's 'Smart City' dreams for Mumbai continue to stare at gaping potholes

Writer

Clyde Crasto Clyde Crasto @clyde_crasto

Columnist. Spokesperson, Maharashtra NCP

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