Roads: Under contractor-nexus cloud, tall promises broken
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Five years after its 2007 manifesto promised that they would lay concrete surfaces on all major roads in the city and reduce road repairs owing to digging for underground utilities, the Shiv Sena-BJP alliance ruling the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) has fallen short of this and many other promises. Even as Sena leaders are redrawing the manifesto for the February elections, a relook at the 2007 manifesto shows much of it is still left unfulfilled.
For starters, the Sena-BJP had promised that all major roads, those which are wider than 30 feet, would be made concrete by the end of the five-year term. Of the total 1940 kilometers of roads, 850 kilometres are major roads. In the past 10 years, the BMC managed to keep the promise for about 500 kilometres, of work on 200 kilometres was done after 2007. However, as opposed to its promise, the work on 350 kilometres of major roads is still left. Officials said that as per current rates, the work on kilometre needs Rs 30 lakh and this high cost was responsible for the slow progress.
Data from the civic body shows it spent Rs 9, 327 crore on roads, bridges and traffic departments since 2002, of which over Rs 6,507 crore was spent in the past five years. Despite the huge spending, it has not been a smooth ride for Mumbaikars, especially during monsoon when potholes become a nightmare for motorists. During the 2010 monsoon, 844 complaints against poor roads were received. It was higher last year.
Since 2007, the BMC has been spending more than Rs 50 crore every year on road repairs during monsoon. While it would be unfair to say that nothing has been achieved, even after being at the helm of Asia's richest civic body that has an average annual budget of Rs 20,000 crore, the Sena-BJP combine seems to have a long way to go when it comes to road infrastructure.
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