In a big embarrassment to the Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) in connection with the pothole menace in Bengaluru, the Karnataka High Court, on Wednesday, rapped the administrative body for failure in filling in potholes and bad condition of roads in the state capital. The Karnataka High Court directed the Chief Engineer of the National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) to inspect the repair work of potholes being done by Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) in Bengaluru and to submit a report in four weeks. The direction was issued in the absence of an independent third-party assessment of the work being done by private contractors and the agency.
The court has categorically stated that the BBMP has failed to adhere to the orders given by the court in this regard. As per reports, the division bench of Chief Justice Prasanna B Varale and Justice Ashok S Kinagi of the Karnataka High Court issued the order after hearing a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) regarding the bad condition of roads in Bengaluru. The next hearing is scheduled next on December 7.
The bench said, “We request the Chief Engineer of National Highways Authorities of India, either personally or by deputing a senior official/engineer to inspect the work of repairs of potholes undertaken by BBMP by awarding contract to private contractors as well as work allotted to respondent 11.” The court said that NHAI’s survey will not stop the work already in progress and BBMP can continue with it.
Among the questions raised by the court are:
- Why did the BBMP not renew the contract of the agency which was filling potholes with advanced machinery?
- Why did BBMP not start the process of appointing a new agency even after the original contract ended in January 2022?
What will NHAI do?
- The NHAI representative will survey whether the pothole repair work is as per the contract
- Whether the work is satisfactory.
- Will give an independent opinion of the pothole-filling work and make suggestions.
- Will submit a report indicating whether there is a dereliction of duty by the BBMP and failure on part of the contractors.
On Wednesday, the BBMP submitted a report to the HC on the status of the pothole-filling work undertaken. Notably, in the report, it was mentioned that out of the 25,032 potholes identified, 13,843 were filled up. Many more were in various stages of being repaired and there were 6,689 potholes that will be filled up within four weeks. The report came after HC, on Monday, specifically directed BBMP to file a report on specific questions it has raised regarding the pothole-filling work.
However, the Karnataka High Court noted, “Even after six years of the PIL along with several orders of the HC over the years, and several reports and affidavits submitted by the BBMP, the road conditions in Bengaluru city is not very positively changed and the unfortunate sufferers are the citizens of the city.”
The court, which also pointed to recent accidents due to potholes in the state capital said, “This court has observed in various orders that the condition of roads and particularly potholes led to unfortunate loss of precious human lives.”