Mumbai: High Court Seeks BMC Chief’s Reply Over Motorcyclist’s Fall Into Pit

Mumbai: High Court Seeks BMC Chief’s Reply Over Motorcyclist’s Fall Into Pit

A division bench of Chief Justice DK Upadhyaya and Justice Arif Doctor asked BMC counsel Joel Carlos to seek response from the BMC commissioner on the incident.

Urvi MahajaniUpdated: Monday, December 18, 2023, 09:41 PM IST
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Bombay High Court | File

The Bombay High Court on Monday sought a reply from the municipal commissioner on a recent incident where a motorcyclist fell into a non-barricaded 15-foot pit in Powai while trying to save a minor. The incident took place on November 30 in Phule Nagar.

Contempt Plea Alleging BMC Non-Compliance

The incident was brought to the notice of the high court by advocate Ruju Thakker, who has filed a contempt plea alleging wilful non-compliance by the BMC with the 2018 judgement on a public interest litigation (PIL) related to fixing of roads. Hiran Kanojia, 35, reportedly had to undergo three-four surgeries to recover from the fall.

High Court Directs BMC Commissioner's Response

A division bench of Chief Justice DK Upadhyaya and Justice Arif Doctor asked BMC counsel Joel Carlos to seek response from the BMC commissioner on the incident.

On November 8, the high court had given a slew of directions to the municipal corporations, Mumbai Metropolitan Regional Development Authority (MMRDA), Urban Development Department (UDD) and Public Works Department (PWD) to ensure repair and maintenance of roads. The court had also expressed the need for a unified body to address people’s complaints regarding potholes due to overlapping jurisdiction of authorities.

Thakker, on Monday, filed a comparative report, to show how several of the high court directions since February 24, 2018, were either not complied with or partially complied with. The report was prepared based on several affidavits filed by the authorities over a period of time in the petition.

The high court, on November 8, directed all the authorities to maintain roads in good condition and also expressed the need for a unified body to address citizens' complaints regarding potholes due to overlapping jurisdiction of authorities.

Thakker’s comparative report pointed out that although the BMC, Vasai-Virar Municipal Corporation, MMRDA, UDD and PWD stated that they issue tenders on a regular/ yearly basis for maintenance / repairs of the road and the same is done through contractors, the “ground reality is different” and the roads are not in “proper condition” at various places.

Challenges in BMC's Complaint Mechanism

One faces a “lot of difficulty” while placing complaints with the BMC on the mobile app started by the civic body, the report contends. The civic body replies to the complaint sent via an email stating that complaint has been addressed and closed. However, there is no change on the ground, the report alleges.

Unmet Requirements for Complaint Lodging

The court had specifically directed the authorities to ensure there is a dedicated website, which is disabled friendly, to register complaints along with uploading photographs of the site.

Till date none of the authorities have a website that is disabled friendly. The authorities do not have a dedicated number or website to lodge complaints with photographs.

Also, the high court direction of displaying boards at sites where road work is being carried out or road is dug up, providing details of the contactor and timeframe of the work, is not being fully complied with, the report stated. Also, the manhole covers have given in at a lot of places, when stepped upon.

State Government's Neglect of Grievance Redress Mechanism

According to the report, the state government has not given adequate publicity to the Centralised Grievance Redress Mechanism.

The high court has kept the matter for hearing on January 9.

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