Mumbai: Mumbaikars should be grateful to activist Zoru Bhathena for drawing the attention of the Bombay High Court, which is hearing the issue of potholes on roads, to the fact that asphalted roads are good enough for the metropolis if done properly.
Bhathena, who is the intervenor in the case, has rightly highlighted the fact there is no need to waste crores of rupees of public money on cement-concrete roads. His firm contention is that properly laid out asphalt roads can withstand heavy rains and there will be no problem of potholes which have shamed the city. With a view to wake up the BMC, the FPJ had even run a photo contest for the ‘Best Potholes’. If Bhathena’s contentions are upheld, Mumbai can be spared the annual disgraceful spectacle of thousands of potholes.
"Some of the best roads in Mumbai are built with asphalt"
In his note to the HC, Bhathena has observed that “some of the best roads in Mumbai are built with asphalt, without a single pothole”. He has cited several examples in this regard. He has noted that nearly the entire stretch from Mantralaya to Mumbai airport is asphalt. (Incidentally, this is used by the netas to go to the airport).
Besides several stretches, Bhathena mentioned the Santa Cruz-Chembur Link Road (SCLR) as well, but this stretch was in poor shape as highlighted earlier by the FPJ, following which the authorities set things right. “These are all examples of perfectly good asphalt roads without any potholes. This shows that asphalt is not the problem,” he added.
The activist has also noted that “Mumbai also has decades-old paver block roads, which are mostly all in smooth and good condition. Mahim Causeway is one example of good smooth paver block roads, with very heavy traffic flow but without any potholes. Dozens of other examples of good paver block roads can be found all over Mumbai.
Paver blocks for patchwork
Unfortunately, the BMC uses paver blocks for shoddy patchwork repairs during monsoon, and it is this shoddy patch work that has given these paver blocks a bad name. When, in fact, all that is bad is the quality of BMC’s repair work.
For good measure, Bhathena has also observed that “Mumbai has many good concrete roads, but several terrible ones too”. Some roads with terrible surfaces are Link Road from Andheri to Dahisar; Andheri Kurla Road, 10th Road JVPD West Lane, and Khar Danda Road. The bumps and jars felt on these roads are terrible. These stretches have become terrible over the years due to their constant digging, which is simply unavoidable in Mumbai.
Bhathena has stated. “What distinguishes the good roads and the bad roads is not the surface material used, but the quality of the material used and the quality of the work done”.
He has alleged that “the authorities deliberately do not repair the roads properly, so they can make up stories that asphalt/paver block roads are not repairable and that only concrete roads are the solution to fix bad roads. A lucrative story that has no truth-base”.