Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Killer Potholes - Who is responsible?

The dialogue on Killer Potholes has started after the unfortunate death of the Lady Biker or Bikerni Jagruti Hogale, And should continue till this is resolved.

Why IndianPenalCode Section 304A cannot be made applicable to Civic Bodies?

Why is Causing death by Negligence by Civic bodies, National Highway Authorities and Road Contractors not punishable?

This is a 2015 Link on #KillerPotholes of India... .

If a doctor can face legal action for malpractice or negligence, and a manufacturer of a product be held liable for its poor performance, why can’t civic bodies be held responsible for road accidents that occur due to their negligence?

Priti Prasad of Ambarnath (in Mumbai’s metropolitan region) and Om Prakash of Bengaluru have been treated as culprits instead of victims despite one having lost a mother the other his wife. Both were riding their respective two-wheelers with a person riding pillion. And both crashed because of potholes on the road.

The law should have helped the survivors of the crash by punishing the culprits. But in both cases, the police went after the wrong person. Who then are the real culprits?

The civic authorities whose job is to maintain the roads and the contractors who laid the roads. In both cases, they obviously fell short. Instead those who were riding the vehicles have been faulted and booked.

A lurching halt in a pothole, even at a prescribed speed, can unseat the rider. The pillion rider has no control and risks falling which could lead to injury and death. The question of speeding here is not as relevant as the criminal liability of not maintaing the roads.

Priti Prasad tried to do the right thing by going to the heart of the matter. She argued that it wasn’t her driving at fault, but the pathetic condition of the road she was forced to use. The Ambernath police refused to register the FIR she was keen to file in order to target the contractor. She should ideally have listed the Ambernath civic body as well.

Standards are often ignored when building roads and sometimes a bad job is done to ensure that subsequent pothole repair contracts are secured as well. Each monsoon is a trigger for renewed loot.  In Mumbai, the high court has had to weigh in on behalf of the citizens, asking the civic body to ensure good roads and keep them pothole-free. It hasn’t become reality yet though.

Civic bodies, being impersonal and therefore insensitive, take these regular raps on the knuckle in their stride and provide sworn affidavits about how they will correct themselves.  The point is they don’t. Even Ganapati, the deity of Maharashtrian, has to worry if he can be brought in safely from the workshop and then taken for immersion without risking injury due to a pothole.

Perhaps the law of torts, whereby they are required to pay for damaged caused, would be the best way to cure the civic bodies of their habitual neglect. Suppose Prakash and Prasad take on the civic bodies by making a demand using torts, and seeking a corrective for a wrong done, it would be a nice start.

Given the number of potholes, not just on any city’s badly-kept roads but on toll-funded highways as well, authorities will have to reckon with the loss of finances and the need to have a separate department to deal with the cases. But they have to get the message that the city is run on tax-payer’s money.

It’s not enough to just have a civic body to provide employment to some and political opportunities to others. It would be a good idea if the accident laws were enabled to provide succour by levying the burden of compensation on the agencies.

Normally the person responsible for a road accident pays through insurance companies. So why not the civic bodies given they are the principal cause of accidents?

Source -

Slideshow on India's Killer Potholes:

Even as radio jockey Malishka and radio channel Red FM 93.5 are embroiled in a controversy with the Municipal Corporation of Greater Mumbai (MCGM) over a satirical video about the bad condition of the city roads, almost 29 accidents per day, or one accident every 50 minutes, were reported due to potholes across the country between 2013 and 2015, according to this reply by the Ministry of State for Road Transport and Highways to the Rajya Sabha (upper house of Parliament) on March 27, 2017.

As many as 10,876 road accidents due to potholes were reported across the country in 2015, the latest figure available. The data for 2016 are yet to be compiled, according to this reply by the ministry to the Lok Sabha (lower house of Parliament).

Over three years, 31,681 accidents were reported due to potholes.

Source -

A brilliant artist Baadal Nanjundaswamy hit national headlines after he planted a life-sized crocodile in the middle of a road after BBMP failed to repair a pothole. His efforts paid off and the city corporation filled up the pothole in just a day after the pictures went viral. A few weeks later Badal Nanjundaswamy drew a butterfly net around a pothole to wake up authorities! Again the red faced civic authorities immediately swung into action and filled up the potholes.
The location of Bengaluru is also partially responsible for the bad condition of roads. It is located 3000 feet above sea level and receives a lot rain. Since the rain leads to water logging, asphalted roads crack, creating potholes. However, the bad quality of work is the main reason for the ever increasing number of potholes across the city.
According to an estimate, there are 2,631 potholes in the city. It states that 910 potholes had come up on roads that are still under the defect liability period. Sources said that if there is any defect/pothole on the road when it is under the defect liability period, the contractor is liable to repair the same at his/her cost.
According to ‘The Hindu’ the report also states that there are 1,721 potholes on other roads, mainly arterial and sub-arterial ones. Sources said that a tender to fill the potholes on these roads would be called soon. The BBMP had earlier stated that a fine of Rs. 2,000 would be levied on contractors for each pothole.
In the last five years the BBMP has spent over Rs 100 crore to repair potholes across the city. However the potholes refuse to vanish. It clearly shows that the major portion of the spent has been siphoned off by the concerned people. Currently the BBMP is bankrupt, unless the Congress state government in Karnataka which snatched BBMP from the BJP releases generous funds for the road work, potholes continue to exist. Making Bengaluru is potholes free city should be the top priority of the BBMP and state government. Apathy kills.

Source -

Filling up potholes is Mumbai man’s tribute to his son. -

In July 2015, Billhore’s son Prakash, 16, died when the bike he was riding hit an 18-feet wide water-filled pothole on the Jogeshwari-Vikhroli Link Road. Prakash was driving back home from college with his cousin

"The trench was made to repair burnt cable wires underground but was not covered after they were repaired. I lost my son due to negligence of civic authorities,” said Billhore.
Now, Billhore, 46, has made it his mission to highlight the callous way in which the municipal corporation maintains the city’s roads.
“Filling up potholes is a tribute to my son who was a bright student and was the hope for a better future of our family,” Billhore said.
Every Sunday, he and his two friends scout around Andheri looking for potholes and filling them up with sand or pebbles."

After the accident, the Aarey police station registered criminal cases against a municipal officer and an engineer from a private power company. The two were held guilty under section 304A (causing death due to negligence) and section 338 (act endangering life and causing grievous hurt). They have got anticipatory bail.
“The charge sheet will be filed this week and we expect court proceedings to begin soon,” said Vilas Chavan, senior inspector from Aarey police station.


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