While citizens are battling with pothole-ridden roads and authorities are nowhere to resolve the problems, political parties are now jumping in to politicise the issue and to use it ahead of the upcoming civic elections, blaming each other. Potholes in the city have again put Shiv Sena and BJP on a collision course.
After widespread criticism over pothole ridden highways, Shiv Sena has targeted the BJP-led state government since the road is under PWD (Public Works Department), MSRDC (Maharashtra State Road Development Corporation) and MMRDA (Mumbai Metro Regional Development Authority). On Friday, Mayor Snehal Ambekar and other Sena leaders have visited the western express highway-which is under PWD (Public Works Department) to take stock of potholes on the arterial road.
“Roads in Mumbai belong to various authorities and it is their responsibility to maintain them. The MCGM claims, it is unnecessarily being blamed for potholes even on roads not owned by it,” said the Mayor, Snehal Ambekar. She inspected the Western Express Highway and other service roads from Kherwadi Junction to Dahisar on Friday. Mumbai has approximately 1900 km of roads. Of these, about 1300 km roads are under MCGM. The civic body has issued a list of roads which are non-MCGM–Western Express Highway, Eastern Express Highway, service roads, flyovers, roads under- skywalks and metros are not under the civic authority. They come under MMRDA, MSRDC and PWD – all state government bodies. Of them, 150 km and 100 km belong to MMRDA and PWD, respectively.
At the same time, thwarting Sena’s attempt to take credit on the pothole issue, BJP organised a visit by PWD minister Chandrakant Patil on the Western Express Highway (WEH). City BJP president Ashish Shelar took Patil to visit whole stretch of WEH from Kherwadi Junction to Dahisar.
Along with Standing Committee chairman Yashodhar Phanse and leader of the house Trushna Vishwasrao also went along for the inspection. Speaking to the media Ambekar said, “We have received a lot of complaints over potholes on Western Express Highway. After inspecting the road I have instructed concerned officials to fix the potholes immediately. Every time, BMC is blamed for potholes but there are other authorities who should do their job properly.”
Ambekar has written a letter to chief minister Devendra Fadnavis requesting a joint meeting of all the authorities to resolve the pothole issue. Meanwhile, after inspecting the same highway PWD minister Chandrakant Patil said, “The potholes on the western express highway will be fixed by Friday. We will turn this highway into model road. Soon the state will start the tender process and by August work will be started and we are targeting it to complete by December.”
Blaming the Shiv Sena led MCGM for poor condition of the highway Patil said, “After the MCGM’s demand we have decided to handover the road to them but suddenly they refused to take over the road and told us they will do it only in January 2017. Due to this PWD have not made any fund allocation for maintenance of the Western Express Highway which led to potholes on the road.”