Dadarao Bilhore, who took to filling potholes in the city after losing his son to one last year is urging the BMC and citizens to join his cause. (Photo: Mrugesh bandiwadekar)
Dadarao Bilhore, who took to filling potholes in the city after losing his son to one last year is urging the BMC and citizens to join his cause.
(Photo: Mrugesh bandiwadekar)
From organising pothole exhibitions to shame the authorities to drawing rangolis around the scarred roads, political parties are indulging in various antics to draw attention to Mumbai’s potholes. While these may be the right noises to make, one man has been working silently and getting more done than most other people, single-handedly. Deepak aka Dadarao Bilhore, who lost his only son Prakash last year due to a deadly pothole has been personally filling up the craters with a humble tool kit — paver blocks, a trowel and construction sand. He has filled up over 300 potholes across the city. A year down the line, the vegetable vendor from Marol is urging citizens to help his cause. Bhilore, along with 34-year-old Rupesh Mandal, a creative ad director is helping spread the word about an app — Spotholes — that he believes will considerably reduce accidents due to potholes.
He says, “I’m tired of filling potholes now, but I won’t stop. Lives are lost because they are not filled on time. When I lost my son, it took them three days to fix that particular pothole. Does this mean that lives need to be lost and families need to be shattered for people to get up and take notice ”
Citing other examples he adds, “A daughter lost her mother in Ambernath, a lady fell in the pothole in Thane, a child lost his life in Bandra — all because of someone’s negligence.”
For the past few months, Dadarao was joined by his son’s friends in his mission to fill up the potholes. But now, he wants other Mumbaikars to join his crusade by simply downloading an app. Explaining the essence of Spotholes Rupesh says, “The app uses three basic features already available in a smartphone — mobile camera, GPS and internet connection and thus enables citizens accomplish half the job by distributing power and much needed responsibility to a crowd-sourced model. The first step to fix a pothole is to mark it. Spotholes helps you point out the pothole to the BMC who can then take cognisance of it.”
“All that the BMC has to do is fill in the potholes spotted by the citizens. We use paver blocks and the sand used for constructions to fill up the potholes. But it’s a temporary solution because with heavy rains, there are chances of erosion,” informs Dadarao.
Currently at a pilot stage, the app is available on Playstore and iOS platforms, with over 200 users in Mumbai. The BMC is yet to be part of the process. “At its current stage, users can click pictures and they are uploaded on our open server, because the BMC is not linked as yet. We can only map the spots and citizens can use it to avoid those routes,” Rupesh explains.
The team’s efforts to include the BMC have not borne fruit so far. “I wrote to BMC about it and they responded that they’d like to see a demo, but I haven’t been able to fix a time in spite of writing constant mails and calls. Once the BMC agrees, we will have a dashboard for them, where they’ll be able to access all the information generated by the users,” adds Rupesh.
Dadarao has one last message for citizens before we wrap up the interview. “Neither are we asking people for money, nor do we want anything from BMC. We just want to form a chain that’ll prevent lives from being lost. The potholes may appear small in size but the losses they cause are huge.”