The Bombay high court has directed the Chief Secretary of Maharashtra government to file compliance reports within three weeks showing if and how they had implemented its 2018 order on repairing potholes along all arterial roads in the city.
A bench of Justice AA Sayed and SG Dige, on Tuesday, was hearing a contempt petition filed by advocate Ruju Thakker alleging that the authorities had failed to implement earlier HC orders of February 24 and April 12, 2018 on repairing the potholes and devising a uniform mechanism to redress citizens' grievances related to bad roads, potholes etc
Stating that the state had acted in contempt of HC's orders, her petition reads that in Mumbai “most roads including arterial roads have developed potholes just like all the previous monsoon seasons.”
Janak Dwarkadas, Thakker’s counsel, argued that it was the statutory duty of authorities to maintain good roads and the HC had rightly imposed additional duty on the State government to set up a centralized grievance redressal mechanism and file quarterly reports. This was in addition to grievance mechanisms for municipal corporation and councils .
Dwarkadas said that such a system was non-existent. Adding that the monsoon was virtually ending, Dwarkadas said that people are dying because of potholes. “People are dying. Pregnant women have lost children. The taxpayer is paying taxes to get this at the end of the day,” said Dwarkadas.
The counsel pointed out BMC’s reply which claimed that it has complied with the HC orders and that there were no potholes in the city. “BMC wants us to believe there are no potholes in the city. On a daily basis there are 900 potholes whether you are travelling from western or eastern express highways. The condition of roads is pathetic,” said Dwarkadas asking what had the government done to hold anybody accountable.
On a court query regarding grievance redressal mechanism for Mumbai, Dwarkadas replied that there was an app but it people had lot of difficulty accessing it.
The HC has even asked Advocate General Ashutosh Kumbhkoni to appear in the matter considering the seriousness of the issue.
In 2018, the HC held that a citizen had a fundamental right to have good roads and footpaths. The court had directed BMC and other agencies to maintain roads and footpaths in a good condition and repair potholes promptly. It had directed the agencies to set up a grievance redressal mechanism to tackle complaints about potholes and bad roads. It had also told civic bodies to cover all open manholes.