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Friday, March 2, 2012

Road repair progresses at SNAIL’S PACE

Work On Only 19 Of 161 Major Roads Completed, Some To Be Dropped Before May Deadline

The first deadline for resurfacing major roads is over and the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation has only managed to complete work on 19 of the city's 161 major roads. Of the 19 roads, 14 are asphalted while the rest are paverblocked. The BMC's target was to complete the concrete roads before the asphalted ones, but not a single concrete road has been completed yet. Keeping its monsoon deadline in mind, the corporation now plans to drop a few roads from the list. 

    In the eastern suburbs, the BMC managed to finish 10 roads – seven asphalted and three paver-blocked ones. The BMC was scheduled to complete 21 cement concrete, 39 asphalt and 11 paver-blocked roads in the eastern suburbs. A senior civic official told TOI, "We are on track. Unlike other areas we do not have the problems of encroachment and road widening." In the western suburbs, the BMC completed five roads – three asphalt and two paver-block ones. Before the monsoon deadline, 14 cement concrete, 26 asphalt and 11 paverblocked roads have to be completed in the western suburbs. The island city is the worst hit, where only four roads have been completed. The biggest hurdle in parts of south Mumbai—Byculla, Grant Road and Kalbadevi—have been encroachments and old structures, the BMC claimed. For these issues to be addressed, it is imperative to first rehabilitate the project-affected people. Here too, the BMC needs to complete 10 cement-concrete, 22 asphalt and six paver-blocked roads. 
    The BMC may have to drop a few roads after the review meeting. TOI has learnt that it could drop plans to resurface 10 roads in Shivaji Nagar, due to the illegal water connections. A few roads in the island city may also be dropped if the BMC fails to resolve issues like encroachment. "We will take a call on dropping roads after the review if we feel that we won't be able to finish work before the May deadline. In 
Shivaji Nagar, we can't work on the road unless water connections are shifted to a new pipeline. The people in Shivaji Nagar aren't cooperating," said additional municipal commissioner Aseem Gupta. 
But experts say there is no cause for concern as long as the BMC makes a correct assessment of the current situation and proceeds accordingly. N V Merani, chairman, standing technical advisory committee, told TOI, "Before carrying out the rest of the work, the BMC in its mid-term review should consider the resources available with contractors, restrictions and present status of the completed work. Otherwise, they will have reasons to worry in May." 
Last week, TOI reported the civic body is running behind schedule in the major roads project. The civic body then claimed there were "strong reasons" for the delay. "The civic machinery got busy with the election. Besides, we faced difficulties while dealing with the public," Gupta had told TOI. 

Nineteen out of 161 works out to around 12%. God help Mumbai – and its roads – if this is the volume of work that the BMC has been able to complete by the first week of March. If past experience is any indication, Mumbaikars should get prepared for another bumpy ride this monsoon. It's shameful that India's richest civic agency cannot guarantee a basic service – good, motorable roads round the year – to its citizens.


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