Deaths Due to Poor Condition of Roads, Potholes Are Man-Made, Says HC, Pulls Up Maharashtra Govt, Civic Bodies

The Bombay High Court on Friday said the cause of deaths due to poor condition of roads, potholes and manholes are not natural but man-made, and it is the constitutional obligation of the Maharashtra government and civic bodies to ensure good, motorable and safe roads.

A division bench of Chief Justice D K Upadhyaya and Justice Arif Doctor also pulled up the state government for not taking any decision on a suggestion made in court last year to hand over all roads in the city under the jurisdiction of the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) for maintenance and repair work.

The bench was hearing a petition filed by advocate Ruju Thakker seeking contempt action against the civic authorities for failing to implement the high court’s orders of 2018 directing the repair of potholes along all arterial roads in Mumbai and neighbouring areas.

Pursuant to the court directives issued on Wednesday, commissioners of the civic bodies of Mumbai, Thane, Kalyan Dombivili, Navi Mumbai, Vasai Virar and Mira Bhayander were present in court on Friday.

The bench directed all the municipal corporations to file exhaustive affidavits detailing what steps it has taken on a 2018 order passed by the court to ensure that all roads are made potholes free.

“Every day there is some incident. These are man-made. The cause of these deaths is not natural. It is man-made. You (government and civic bodies) have to stop this. It is your responsibility. You have a constitutional obligation,” Chief Justice Upadhyaya said.

It was not the job of the court to pass orders on such issues, the bench said.

BMC commissioner Iqbal Chahal on Friday told the court that Mumbai has witnessed very heavy rainfall this season and the condition of roads have deteriorated due to this.

Roads in Mumbai are being concretised and as and when the issue of potholes arises, the concerned road is repaired, he said.

The court was, however, not impressed and said the fact remains that roads are still in poor condition and asked why roads cannot withstand rains.

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“The situation remains the same. The quantum of work required to be done is much more. I have been a student of statistics and we were taught that there are three stages of lies one is lying, the second is damn lying and the third is statistical lies,” CJ Upadhyaya said.

When the bench sought to know from the state government if it has taken a decision on the suggestion of handing over roads in Mumbai to the BMC, government pleader P P Kakade said a decision is yet to be taken.

“It was a simple executive decision. Why is it taking so long? Providing motorable safe road is as much your responsibility as it is of the corporations. What have you done? The menace continues even today. The problem continues,” the court said.

On the issue of open manholes, the bench directed the ward officer of each of the 24 wards in Mumbai to carry out an inspection and submit a report within three weeks.

The bench directed the state government and corporations to file their affidavits and posted the matter for hearing on September 29.

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