Mumbai: Expressing concern over the threat to pedestrian safety from open manholes, the Bombay High Court warned on Wednesday that municipal officials concerned will be held responsible if anyone were to fall into a manhole.
A division bench of Chief Justice Dipankar Datta and Justice Abhay Ahuja said the court cannot ask those aggrieved to file civil suits for compensation. “We will say your officers are responsible," it said.
The court, however, appreciated the efforts being put in by the BMC. "Good you are working, but till then if harm is caused to anyone, we will hold you responsible,” Chief Justice Datta said.
The court made these observations while hearing a contempt plea filed by advocate Ruju Thakker regarding wilful non-compliance by municipal corporations in the state with the court’s 2018 judgment in a public interest litigation (PIL) on fixing roads.
BMC counsel Anil Sakhare told the court that they are addressing the issue of open manholes on a war footing and ensuring that all manholes are covered.
The justices suggested that the civic body should use technology and come up with a permanent solution to the recurring problem. For instance, sensors could be used that would set off an alarm in case anyone tried to remove a manhole cover.
The civic body has time and again claimed that it covers open manholes when informed but the covers get stolen.
Asking the BMC to set a standard operating procedure to address the issue, the justices also suggested that grilles could be installed below manhole covers. They added, however, that the BMC, as the implementing authority, is best placed to choose the appropriate solution. The matter has been posted for Dec 19.
(If you have a story in and around Mumbai, you have our ears, be a citizen journalist and send us your story here. )