Friday, June 21, 2013

Potholes Scam In Mumbai: Paying for pothole repair based on depth impractical: corporator

Says system ensures no one can question hefty payments made to contractors

The disparity in rates offered to contractors for filling potholes of different depths is a reason for you, the taxpayer, to worry. That and the lack of adequate mechanism available with the civic body to gauge the depth of potholes make the system rife for financial irregularities.

The Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation last year introduced the concept of paying contractors for filling potholes according to their depth — up to 20mm, 40mm, up to 100mm, and beyond. In G- North ward for instance, a contractor gets Rs276 for filing a pothole in the first category, and Rs2,700 for filling one deeper than 100mm, an amount almost 10 times more.

It is this variation that makes many suspect an official- contractor collusion. "Frankly, we don't have the resources to measure the depths of potholes. Most times, it is done by estimation, which leaves a lot of room for irregularity," said a senior civic official from the civic roads department.

Congress corporator Asif Zakaria said the measurement system is a farce, and an attempt to hoodwink the public. “Measuring the pothole's depth is neither practical nor possible," said Zakaria, a threetime corporator. "This system is a good to fool the public so that no one can question the payment made to the contractor," he said.

The BMC has spent Rs333 crore on pothole repair in the past five years.
21 Jun 2013, Hindustan Times (Mumbai), Kunal Purohit

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