In April, a 28-year-old biker died in Bangalore after his bike collided with a car while trying to avoid a pothole. Pick any Indian commuter and ask him the problem they face, the typical reply would be “roads are not constructed properly, or there are potholes everywhere.”
In order to understand how dangerous potholes are, let us look into a few statistics. According to ‘Road Accidents in India – 2017’ report of the Union Ministry of Road Transport and Highways, in 2017 of the total 4,64,910 accident reported, 9,423 accidents happened due to potholes causing 3,597 fatalities and 8,792 injuries.
In Bengaluru alone, until now, there have been 360 accident causing potholes were identified in 2019. Surprisingly, the Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) has claimed that they have counted 300 potholes last year and closed them all. However, new potholes have shown up due to recent rain.
To fill the potholes and make sure no accidents take place in Bengaluru road due to potholes, an NGO has rolled its sleeves and is working round the clock. PotHoleRaja, has become people’s favourite in no time with their work of fixing potholes. Founded in 2016, to make the road free of potholes, it has already filled more than 5000 potholes in the city.
Background of PotHoleRaja
While speaking to The Logical Indian, Saurabh Kumar, COO of PotHoleRaja, said, “The main driving force behind this NGO’s success goes to our founder – Prathap B, a former Indian Airforce Pilot.” However, after an accident, he quit IAF and joined the corporate world. The concern for potholes bugged him when he went to foreign countries for business trips and saw how great the roads were there. He was often met with questions like why are Indians roads so bad? The turning point in his life was when a close friend lost his daughter due to a pothole in Bengaluru. It made him quit his well-paid job and focus solely on fixing roads. Sourabh said that after quitting the job, Prathap did extensive research to find the material which could fill potholes. He came up with Cold Asphalt, a material which is known to sustain in the rain and does not require heat while applying. In the initial stages, Prathap imported cold Asphalt from the US as he was not aware of its availability in India. He used to use his savings to fill potholes on his own. His family and neighbour helped him at the beginning.
Soon from a one-man army, PotHoleRaja became an NGO. Several people started noticing his work and helped him in filling the potholes. In 2017, Sourabh, who was working as a software engineer at HP, got to know about Prathap and his noble work. “One day while reading a newspaper, I came to know about PotHoleRaja. All at once I wanted to be a part of his NGO.” Sourabh helped in fixing the potholes while continuing his job. A few months later, he quit his job and engaged himself with the NGO.
How does PotHoleRaja work?
Sourabh elaborating on the way they work said, “We have a huge number of volunteers present across Bengaluru. They inform us on our WhatsApp group and then volunteers who are free rush to the spot to fix it.” Apart from this, citizens reach out to the NGO on their website or message them on their Whatsapp group with photos of the potholes. The NGO also gets in touch with corporate companies to understand potholes related difficulties faced by employees to reach office.
After being instructed, the team of volunteers reach the spot between 5-5:30 am. “We try to finish our work before people start using the road. We don’t want to hinder the traffic flow in the city”, added Sourabh .
The NGO currently runs on the CSR funds of the corporate companies or by the fundraised by a society. As of now, the NGO has fixed scores of potholes in Koramangala, Jayanagar, HSR Layout, JP Nagar, Lalbagh Road, and Marathalli Road.
Response from people
When asked, what is the generic reaction that they receive when citizens find them in action, Sourabh said, “Most of the time they learn from us the technique and come forward to lend a hand. However, what pleases us the most is the smile that brings out on the face of two-wheelers when they see the potholes are being filled.” He also added that even BMTC bus drivers show them ‘thumbs up’, every time they pass them. As PotHoleRaja started expanding, people from other cities too expressed their eagerness to volunteer for the group. “One day we received a call from a guy in Amritsar after he saw our work on DD channel. He wanted to know how we worked and wanted to fix potholes in his area,” said Sourabh. The NGO boast with a wide age range of volunteers from 8- 75 years of old. As of now, the NGO is extensively working in Delhi, Chennai, Hyderabad, and Mumbai.
Fixing Pothole Not a Rocket Science
When asked about the future plan, Sourabh said that they want to change the mindset of people in this country for blaming the government about poor roads. “People are always angry on government for the condition of roads. Why can’t we as a citizen, try to fix the road that we use? We should help the government rather than blaming them”, added Sourabh. He also said that one major goal that the NGO is striving to achieve is to fix a concerned pothole in 3 days against a week time that the NGO generally take. “We need to be faster to fill the pothole to avoid an accident caused by it.” The NGO is also trying to provide employment to transgenders and underprivileged people. “Whenever we go out to fix potholes, we try to add transgenders and underprivileged people and pay them on the model of daily wage basis. This creates employment for them,” mentioned Sourabh.
The Logical Indian appreciates PotHoleRaja for their noble task and hopes that more people join them to fulfil their dream of making Indian road potholes free. Citizens can reach out to them to on – 8147684653