With a view to improve the pothole-ridden state of roads in the city and neighbouring areas, the Bombay high court on Friday suggested that all municipal corporations and public authorities like PWD, MMRDA, MSRTC and others be brought under one ambit/authority having statutory powers.
With a view to improve the pothole-ridden state of roads in the city and neighbouring areas, the Bombay high court on Friday suggested that all municipal corporations and public authorities like PWD, MMRDA, MSRTC and others be brought under one ambit/authority having statutory powers. A division bench of Chief Justice Mohit Shah and M.S. Sanklecha was hearing a suo motu PIL that came about due to a letter of high court’s sitting judge, Gautam Patel. This newspaper had reported on September 6 that the high court was informed about the dismal state of the Western Express Highway, Eastern Expressway and Sion-Panvel Road, and subsequently, the HC, had asked for the PWD’s action plan on the next date of hearing. On Friday, the court was flooded with various suggestions that came from a panel comprising experts, municipal officials and lawyers. Among these suggestions, traffic expert and former Maharashtra DGP Dr P.S. Pasricha’s suggestions were taken into consideration, not only by the court, but other panel members too. He said that during the 1980s, there was a suggestion to bring all authorities under one umbrella — Unified Metropolitan Transport Authority (UMTA). BMC additional commissioner S.V.R. Srinivasan said that a committee in the same regard was set up on September 28 last year. However, the court was told that it lacked statutory powers. In addition, the BMC informed the HC that it’s mulling a “traffic mobility plan”, which would help maintain traffic flow and roads. Mr Srinivasan also said that the civic body was thinking about prioritising roads. The court was also of the view that apart from awarding contracts on the basis of lowest bids, significance be given to the competence of contractors and erring contractors be heavily penalised. According to Dr Pasricha, the loss of human hours and fuel should also be considered while awarding contracts. He added that if a flyover, which is constructed by one contractor in two years, can be constructed by another contractor in lesser time at a little higher cost, then the latter should be preferred. Representing lawyers who live in the area close to Western Express Highway, Eastern Expressway and Sion-Panvel Road, advocate Prateek Seksaria told the court, “Despite the authorities’ claim that a pothole is fixed within 15 days of intimation, there’s a gaping hole in the slab of the flyover near Oberoi Mall while coming from Malad to south Mumbai. I want to ask how can flyovers develop holes when they are built only 12 years ago ” “Are you going to take any action against the contractor ” asked Chief Justice Shah. To this, the MSRTC official told the court that they were inquiring into the matter. Taking all submissions and suggestions on record, the court directed Mr Khambata to take instructions from the government on the functioning and powers of this committee and posted the next date of hearing on November 22.