The Bruhat Bangalore Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) was able to fill only 899 potholes till 6 a.m. on Thursday out of the 1,655 potholes that existed as on September 19 after the Karnataka High Court had said that it expects the BBMP to ensure that the city has ‘zero’ potholes by Thursday.
Interestingly, the BBMP’s Engineer-in-Chief (In-charge) M.R. Venkatesh has stated in an affidavit that additional 1,416 potholes were detected in the intervening night of September 19 and 20 when the BBMP engineers were in the process of attending to the potholes. As many as 899 potholes of the 1,655 potholes were attended to and closed till 6 a.m. on September 20, he has stated in the affidavit while seeking three days ‘to close all the potholes’ in the city.
The affidavit was submitted to a division bench comprising Chief Justice Dinesh Maheshwari and Justice S.G. Pandit during the hearing of a petition filed in 2015 by Vijayan Menon and three others complaining about the pathetic conditions of roads in the city. Details of the work of closing potholes since September 19 were submitted to the court in a pen drive.
As per the statistics submitted to the court, there are 2,172 more potholes in the city and the highest number (709) is in Mahadevapura zone, followed by Yelahanka zone (379) and Bommanahalli (321).
West zone has the least number of potholes (27), Rajarajeshwari Nagar zone has 55 followed by East zone (68) and South (71). There are 125 potholes in Dasarahalli zone.
There are 417 potholes to be attended to under the BBMP’s Road Infrastructure wing.
Accepting the request for three more days to close all the pothole, the bench said orally that the BBMP is required to achieve ‘zero’ potholes by September 24. If it achieves the target of ‘zero’ potholes, it cannot be termed as ‘heroic’, as maintaining roads in the condition worthy for use is a basic duty of the BBMP, the bench observed orally.
The court also directed the BBMP to produce photocopies of first and last pages of measurement books related to pothole repairs undertaken in all the 198 wards for the next hearing on Monday.
‘Civic officials will work day and night’
Having failed to meet the High Court’s Thursday afternoon deadline to make Bengaluru pothole-free, the Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) said its officials will work ‘day and night’ to adhere to the new deadline of September 24.
While the High Court had directed the civic body to ensure that the roads are rid of potholes by Thursday, BBMP officials requested time of three days to complete the task.
M.R. Venkatesh, Engineer-in-chief (in-charge) told The Hindu that all Chief Engineers had been instructed to ensure that each and every pothole in their respective zones were filled by Monday. “We have instructed them to get the work done working day and night. As this is based on High Court directions, the traffic police will cooperate with us in managing the vehicular movement,” he said.
Even though the BBMP swung into action immediately after the High Court’s directions on Wednesday, rain on Thursday afternoon slowed down the process, officials said. “We started the work, but it had to be stopped midway because of rain. However, we will get it done within the next three days,” said Mayor R. Sampath Raj.
While usually hot mix is used to fill potholes, civic workers were unable to do so owing to the rain. “We have asked officials to use cold mix and get the potholes fixed in case there is rain. If the road is wet, we cannot use hot mix,” said Mr. Venkatesh.
Residents in some localities said they are yet to any activity. Koramangala resident Nitin Seshadri said he did not notice any activity in his locality, adding, “Pothole filling is one bit. Here there are entire lanes that are in bad shape. The stretch from Koramangala water tank junction till Jakkasandra has been dug up for laying a water pipe. There are a lot of potholes near St. John’s Hospital junction as well. Instead of focussing on filling of potholes, the BBMP should focus on motorable roads.”
One of the petitioners in the case, Vijayan Menon, said they were happy that some action was being initiated. “The larger point of the petition was accountability for quality of roads. Potholes is one part of the issue. Once BBMP has filled potholes, the quality of the work needs to be inspected,” he said.