"How many will you eliminate before the next monsoon?" was Bombay High Court's question to the Bruhanmumbai Municipal corporation in August this year. The court was pulling up the civic body over killer potholes in Mumbai. Real issues are staring it in the eyes but the BMC seems to have gotten its priorities all wrong.
Within a span of one month, two lives were lost to potholes in Mumbai while many incidents of injuries were reported. Despite potholes claiming lives, Mumbai's civic body is more focused on making singing of Vande Manatram mandatory in BMC-run schools. Despite opposition from the Congress and the Samajwadi Party, the Shiv Sena ruled BMC passed a resolution to make Vande Mataram mandatory for all schools under its aide on Thursday. The same resolute and conviction goes kaput when it comes to fixing real problems like potholes that are claiming the lives of Mumbaikars.
"Will the BMC now pass a resolution to make Mumbai pothole-free?" "How about you pass a motion to develop roads that don't get potholes?". These are some reactions of Mumbaikars to BMC's decision to make Vande Mataram mandatory in all its schools.
Playing the nationalist card is easy, doing its job difficult for BMC?
The BMC would rather punish those who raise their voice against civic issues like it did in the case of R K Malishka. She was served notices by the BMC after she produced a video song mocking BMC's handling of civic issues in Mumbai. In July, a 34-year-old biker was crushed to death after she fell off her bike attempting to avoid a pothole in Mumbai. Earlier in the same month, a 17-year-old boy who was riding helmetless died after he slipped from his bike while attempting to avoid a pothole.
Maharashtra has a dubious track record of registering the highest number of deaths due to potholes. 812 people died due to potholes in Maharashtra according to government statistics. These are numbers of cases that were finally registered as pothole deaths but dozens are swept under the carpet with the government refusing to acknowledge potholes as the cause of death. In the case of the 34-year-old woman biker too, the Maharashtra government claimed that the death was not caused by a pothole.
Playing the nationalist card by making singing of Vande Mataram may have brought the BMC some brownie points from a section of the society but the same section also uses the bad roads that the BMC has to offer. Is the civic agency taking the national song route to cover up for its shortcomings on the real job front? After all, maintaining, repairing as well as ensuring quality roads are the primary job of the civic agency.