Bombay High Court: In a petition filed regarding resurfacing of potholes with the onslaught of monsoon and there being no improvement at the ground level, a Division Bench of Dipankar Datta, CJ., and M S Karnik J., directed Municipal Corporation of Greater Mumbai (MCGM) to take urgent steps in fixing the potholes existing as on date as well as the State Government and MCGM to audit the performance of the erring road contractors responsible for the bad road conditions. The Court further directed the State Government to consider the suggestion of the Commissioner to hand over all the roads within the jurisdiction of MCGM for up-keep and maintenance.
The compliance affidavits were placed on record, indicating the efforts made by the State Government/MCGM to comply with the order and it was further submitted that MCGM has prepared a detailed action plan called “Pothole Free Mumbai” to tackle the menace of potholes during the monsoon and long-term measures to get rid of the bad road conditions. The plan consists of following aspects:
(i) Major cause for potholes during monsoon and the reason why the road conditions are damaged at other times;
(ii) The technology and the materials being used to fix potholes during monsoon;
(iii) Short term and long-term measures towards ensuring pothole free Mumbai roads during monsoon;
(iv) Overall improvement of the conditions of the roads in Mumbai.
The Commissioner, MCGM, further submitted that twenty (20) roads have been identified which are in very poor condition and require urgent repairs and within three (3) months, complete repairs will be affected.
The Court noted that as per Commissioner’s presentation, not all the roads within the jurisdictional limits of MCGM are under its control and there are several other statutory authorities, including the Public Works Department (PWD), which are tasked with the up-keep and maintenance of these roads.
The Court further noted that Commissioner has suggested that all the roads within the jurisdiction of MCGM are handed over to it, the task of coordination, monitoring, up-keep and maintenance of these roads would become more effective and convenient.
The Court opined that a holistic view has to be adopted by the concerned authorities in ensuring that potholes and bad road conditions do not become a cause for damage to life and limb and consequent despair for the human kind in future.
The Court further recorded the submissions made by the Commissioner which are as follows:
(i) All the potholes will be fixed immediately;
(ii) Around 125 Kms of asphalt roads will be resurfaced with asphalt bitumen within three (3) months;
(iii) The total length of the roads within MCGM’s jurisdiction is 2050 kms. The cement concretization of the roads is complete to the extent of 990 kms. Tenders have been awarded and the ongoing works for cement concretization of the roads is to the extent of 265 kms. Tenders floated and likely to be awarded in November 2022 are for the length of 397 kms. The balance length, to be improved in Phase-II, is 398 kms.
The Court directed the State Government to consider the suggestion of the Commissioner to hand over all the roads within the jurisdiction of MCGM for up-keep and maintenance to MCGM and expected MCGM to complete the cement concreting of the roads under its jurisdiction within a period of thirty (30) months from the date of order.
[Ruju R Thakker v. State of Maharashtra, 2022 SCC OnLine Bom 3707, decided on 30-09-2022]
Advocates who appeared in this case :
Mr. Jamshed Mistry, Amicus Curiae along with Mr. Dipesh Siroya.
Ms. Ruju R. Thakker, Contempt Petitioner-in-person.
Mr. Abhay L. Patki, Addl. Government Pleader for respondent no. 1.
Mr. A.A. Garge for respondent no. 3 – Navi Mumbai Corporation and for respondent nos. 5 and 280 in PIL/71/2013.
Mr. Ajai Fernandes a/w. Mrs. N.D. Motiwalla i/by. Motiwalla & Co. for Respondent no. 7.
Mr. P.P. Kakade, Government Pleader a/w. Mrs. R.A. Salunkhe AGP for State of Maharashtra.
Mr. I.M. Khairdi for respondent no.25 in PIL/71/2013.
Mr. R.V. Dighe i/by. Mr. A.S. Rao for respondent no. 4 in CONPP/6/2019 and for respondent no. 17 in PIL/71/2013 – (KDMC).
Mr. A.Y. Sakhare, Senior Advocate along with Ms. K.H. Mastakar and Ms. Rupali Adhate for respondent no. 2 in CONPP/6/2019 and for Respondent no. 3 in PIL/71/2013 – (MCGM).
Mr. Mandar V. Limaye for respondent no.10 in CONPP/6/2019 and for respondent no. 4 in PIL/71/2013 (Thane Municipal Corporation).
Mr. Rohit Sakhdeo a/w. Mr. Pushkar Nagpurkar for respondent no. 20 (Nashik Municipal Corporation) in PIL/71/2013.
Mr. Prashant Chavan i/b Reshmarani Nathani for respondent no. 9 in CONPP/6/2019 and for respondent no. 13 in PIL/71/2013.
Mr. Gaurav Yadav i/by. BJ Law Offices for Respondent no. 29 in CONPP/6/2019.
Mr. Malhar Pawar i/by. Mr. Nandu Pawar for Respondent no. 319 in PIL/71/2013.
Roshan M. Chavan i/by. Mr. Vaibhav V. Ugle for Respondent no. 260 in PIL/71/2013.
Mr. Swapnil Telang i/by. Mr. Umesh Mankapure for Respondent nos. 181 and 324 in PIL/71/2013.
Mr. Pranjal M. Khatavkar a/w. Mr. Shriram S. Kulkarni for Respondent nos. 54 to 59, 357, 358 in PIL/71/2013.
Mr. Ajit Hon for Respondent Nos. 52 & 356 in PIL/71/2013.
Mr. Sadashiv Salunkhe, Secretary (Roads), PWD and Ms. Pradnya Walke, Deputy Secretary (Roads) present.
Dr. Dhanalaxmi Iyer petitioner-in-person in PIL/22690/2021 (Not on Board; Taken on Board).
*Arunima Bose, Editorial Assistant has put this report together.