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'Be Honest With Work': Karnataka High Court Directs BBMP To Fill Up Over 200 Potholes In 10 Days

Addressing the widening pothole concern across the Bangalore roads, the High Court has asked the BBMP to fill up the 221 potholes in the major roads of the city within ten days and report to the court.

Bangalore's crumbling infrastructure has made it to the news once again as the Karnataka High Court was hearing a 2015 petition filed in regard to the dismal state of the Bangalore roads. Over the years, residents have been drawing the attention of the officials to the many potholes that act as death traps for motorists and the sewage systems that overflow into roads during the rain spells. 

The recent downpours in August had led to a similar outrage as people had to travel knee-deep in water. Prior to this, in the month of June, about a 14km stretch of roads across Bangalore that was repaired by the Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) caved in after incessant rains. The roads were revamped with a fund of ₹23 crores but did not take long to cave in.

With many such repeated scenarios questioning the BBMP's work, the High Court heard the petition filed seven years back and addressed the continued state of poor roads in the city. The division bench of Acting Chief Justice Alok Aradhe and Justice S Vishwajith Shetty gave the civic body a span of ten days to fully repair over 200 potholes in the major roads.

As Bengaluru's crumbling infrastructure has come into focus over the past few weeks amidst the incessant rains, the Karnataka High Court on Monday, September 19, gave the Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) a deadline to fill up the city's potholes. 

BBMP's Side Of The Argument 

The lawyer appearing for BBMP informed the court that the civic body has been working toward filling up the potholes in the road and that the number of potholes being filled up is being updated every day. As per the numbers the lawyer presented in the court, a total of 2,010 potholes have been filled, and only 221 potholes remain in the city as of September 14.

In terms of the measures that are being undertaken about the roads, the lawyer stated that tenders had been issued for resurfacing of the roads, and the process is expected to reach completion by January 2023. Furthermore, 2,500 kilometres of arterial roads would also be resurfaced in eight zones of Bangalore by March 31, as per reports by The News Minute.

The court also enquired about what has been done so far in regard to the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) report submitted in September 2021. Responding to this, the counsel said that the BBMP is incorporating it in the work they do. Not entirely satisfied with the response, the court recommended the counsel to constitute a committee to implement the report of the CAG and submit a report to the court periodically.

The committee is set to be constituted by September 20 and would have to file a report to the high court every fortnight. Asking the counsel to stick by the deadlines, the court said that any form of deviation would incur consequences. 

"If We Are Not Shouting, It Does Not Mean We Are Not Serious", Said The Court

The BBMP has been pulled up to court several times in the past over the same issue of filling up the potholes. In April, a High Court bench led by the then Chief Justice Ritu Raj Awasthi slammed the civic body for their incomplete pothole-filling work.

He noted that the BBMP was consistently shifting the blame towards traffic, infrastructure, rains and other agencies for the poor conduct of the work. Asking, "What is left for you to blame, how many people will you go on passing the buck to?," the chief justice told the BBMP that they wanted the roads to be repaired, but the civic body refuses to get the work done. 

The petition filed by resident Vijay Menon in 2015 had also sought action to fill up potholes on both major and arterial roads and remove encroachments to stormwater drains. Hearing this plea on September 19, the Karnataka High Court observed that the matter has not yet been taken up by the civic body with seriousness. 

The court warned the BBMP that while they are not shouting at the civic body to get work done, it does not mean that they take the issue lightly. Demanding the BBMP to be honest about their work, the division bench asked the lawyer to convey the sense of urgency in the matter to the BBMP Commissioner.

Necessary Action To Be Taken Before September 30

The bench then asked for a tentative date by which the potholes could be filled. They observed, "You are giving 221 as the number. We ask you to be honest. How many potholes?" On further probing, the advocate informed that the 221 potholes were the number on major roads, and the number on the arterial roads went up to approximately 2,500.

Building on this response, the bench ordered the BBMP to repair the potholes in the major roads using a hot mix within ten days. Putting it into the record, they have also asked the BBMP to submit a compliance report about filling up the potholes along with the photographs before the next date of hearing.

As reported by The Print, the court has directed the civic body to adhere to the timeline of September 30. Orders will be issued accordingly if they do not take the necessary action by then. 

The counsel was also questioned about the grievance cells and the website that records citizens' complaints about potholes in the road. The hearing concluded on a positive note, with the bench conveying that citizens are entitled to the right to have roads that are pothole-free, and as a statutory body, the BBMP is under the obligation to maintain and repair those roads. 

Also Read: Bengaluru Knee-Deep In Heavy Rains; Citizens Flooded Twitter Demanding Authorities To Take Measures 

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Writer : Laxmi Mohan Kumar
Editor : Snehadri Sarkar
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