The Bombay High Court on Thursday asked the Brihanmumbai Municipal Commissioner (BMC) chief Iqbal Chahal and Public Works Department (PWD) Secretary to come to HC next week with a road map to repair 20 “most bad” roads under their jurisdiction in the city and a time plan to fix the same.
A division bench of Chief Justice Dipankar Datta and Justice Madhav Jamdar asked the BMC counsel and government pleader to ask the BMC Commissioner and PWD secretary respectively to get a survey done by their officers on which are 20 “most bad” roads in the city under their jurisdiction.
“Ask Mr Chahal when he can come to court. When he (Chahal) comes, tell him that he has to get a survey done of the 20 most bad roads in the city. And he has to give a road map by which date he will issue tender to get the roads fixed and by when will the work be completed,” CJ Datta told BMC counsel Anil Sakhare.
The court then asked the government pleader to inform the same to PWD Secretary.
The oral direction was given while hearing a contempt petition filed by advocate Ruju Thakker regarding the wilful non-compliance by municipal corporations of the 2019 HC judgement in a suo motu PIL on fixing roads.
The court said they are not passing any order to the effect but asking the senior officers to come and help find a solution to the issue.
“Now the monsoon has gone. So that can’t be an issue,” said CJ Datta. During earlier hearings, authorities had cited monsoon as an impediment to repair roads.
Citing his personal example, CJ said: “When I came to Mumbai in 2020, I felt the roads here were much better than in Calcutta. Things have changed so much in the last two years.” Referring to the Narayan Dabholkar Road at Malabar Hill, where the CJ’s residence is situated, he said: “So many VIPs are staying there. Go there and find out the condition (of roads). If I say the (BMC) commissioner must do the repairs (of the road) before my residence. Just like all citizens, you must also treat me.”
“BMC is one of the richest corporations, more than some governments in the country. When you have money, use it for public good,” he added.
Reading from the 2018 judgement, Thakker said that nothing has changed in the four years. She showed a photograph of a big pothole on SCLR which was published in a newspaper on Wednesday.
Looking at the photograph, CJ remarked: “There is a big crater in the middle of the road. Other part of the road looks like a carpet. Only one big crater. This is bad workmanship.
Why should the contractor not be pulled up?”
Thakker even pointed out that the BMC sanctions Rs 2 crore per year per ward for road works. “Why should the citizens not get the benefit of good roads? They are left at the mercy of BMC.”
When amicus curiae (friend of court) Jamshed Mistry gave a note of suggestions, citing an order of the Kerala HC, CJ said: “If we had a magic wand by which we could eradicate greed, all of this wouldn’t happen. Unfortunately, it is so ingrained in society that we have to live with it.”