Mumbai: BMC's ₹7,000 Crore Road Repair Plan Triggers Controversy; Opposition Concerned Over Delays & Transparency Issues

Mumbai: BMC's ₹7,000 Crore Road Repair Plan Triggers Controversy; Opposition Concerned Over Delays & Transparency Issues

With approximately 2,050 km of roads in Mumbai, the BMC’s 2022 decision to convert all asphalt roads into cement concrete ones has encountered delays.

RUCHA KANOLKARUpdated: Thursday, February 01, 2024, 10:05 PM IST
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BMC | File photo

To exacerbate the traffic woes of Mumbai, the BMC has laid out plans to repair 40 per cent of the city’s roads, unleashing chaos on the already congested thoroughfare. The ambitious undertaking involves inviting tenders worth a staggering Rs 7,000 crore to concrete 400 km of asphalt roads. However, the decision has met with scepticism and criticism from the opposition.

Although the civic had previously announced in September 2022 that the concretisation of an additional 400 km of roads was underway, as of January 2024, the work on the remaining 400 km is yet to commence, leaving citizens grappling with prolonged road repairs.

With approximately 2,050 km of roads in Mumbai, the BMC’s 2022 decision to convert all asphalt roads into cement concrete ones has encountered delays. An official from the Roads and Traffic Department confirmed the ongoing concreting of 400 km, which includes minor roads of three and six meters.

Commissioner Iqbal Singh Chahal announced the successful completion of the cement concretisation of 158 km, bringing the total count of cement concrete roads in Mumbai to 1,148km.

However, the recent cancellation of a Rs1,600 crore contract for south Mumbai, and the subsequent decision to invite fresh tenders, has raised concerns about the overall progress, especially as work in suburbs has barely reached 10 per cent completion.

According to the tender specifications, the extensive road concreting is expected to take a minimum of 24 months, excluding the monsoon season, with new road construction slated to commence in October this year. This timeline has prompted Shiv Sena (UBT) leader Aaditya Thackeray to voice concerns about potential financial irregularities, questioning a fine of Rs200 crore and demanding transparency in the collection process.

Thackeray has also criticised the BMC’s handling of contractors, pointing out flaws in the tender process that allegedly favoured specific contractors. He revealed that one contractor, responsible for a portion of the mega road project, has been terminated without being blacklisted or facing legal action, emphasising a lack of accountability.

In a blow to Chief Minister Ekanth Shinde’s promise to rid Mumbai of potholes within two years, the BMC has terminated the contract for constructing cement concrete (CC) roads in the island city. The termination notice was issued to Roadway Solutions India Infra Ltd (RSIL), one of the five companies awarded the Rs 6,080 crore, 400 km CC road contracts across the city, for failing to initiate work within eight months of receiving the orders.

BMC records indicate its jurisdiction covers around 2,050km of roads, with 990km concretised before 2022.

However, the civic body has long faced criticism for pothole-ridden roads, leading to a decision in 2017 to undertake the comprehensive cement concretisation of all Mumbai roads. Chahal highlighted the installation of CCTV cameras at construction sites to monitor road quality, emphasising strict quality control measures through 50 different laboratory tests on construction materials.

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