Hand over Sion-Panvel highway, BMC tells PWD to fix accountability | Mumbai news - Hindustan Times
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Hand over Sion-Panvel highway, BMC tells PWD to fix accountability

Dec 29, 2023 08:14 AM IST

Last week, Alka Sasane, assistant commissioner, M east ward in Govandi, wrote to the PWD saying that in the course of an inspection of the said stretch by the additional municipal commissioner (western suburbs), they had found the footpaths

Mumbai: The BMC, the single nodal agency for the maintenance of two of Mumbai’s biggest arterial roads, The Western and Eastern Express Highways, has now asked the public works department (PWD) to handover the 5.5 kilometre stretch from Vashi khadi bridge to Mankhurd station on the Sion-Panvel highway to it for maintenance. This stretch, the BMC says, is in a sorry state, marked with uneven tarmac and broken footpaths, inconveniencing commuters and pedestrians alike.

Mumbai, India - Dec. 28, 2023: Footpaths are not in the good conations between Mankhur and Vashi stretch at Sion Panvel Road in Mumbai, India, on Thursday, December 28, 2023. (Photo by Satish Bate/ Hindustan Times) (Hindustan Times)
Mumbai, India - Dec. 28, 2023: Footpaths are not in the good conations between Mankhur and Vashi stretch at Sion Panvel Road in Mumbai, India, on Thursday, December 28, 2023. (Photo by Satish Bate/ Hindustan Times) (Hindustan Times)

The PWD, however, is in no mood to oblige the BMC as it is a toll road and a significant value generator for them.

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Last week, Alka Sasane, assistant commissioner, M east ward in Govandi, wrote to the PWD saying that in the course of an inspection of the said stretch by the additional municipal commissioner (western suburbs), they had found the footpaths, road dividers and kerbstones in dilapidated condition and wanted to take over the road for better maintenance. “Through this letter you are informed that in accordance with the above complaint (over the upkeep) of Sion-Panvel highway under our jurisdiction within M-East ward, the road divider, footpath and kerbstone should be repaired and painted immediately or the said road should be transferred to the BMC,” she wrote.

Sasane added that the BMC’s chief issues were about the encroachments around mangrove forests, and poorly maintained and cleaned roads. “Just as EEH and WEH were handed over by MMRDA to us last year, the Sion-Panvel Highway too will now be our responsibility if PWD agrees to handover for maintenance,” she told HT.

The BMC informed PWD that in accordance with the above-mentioned matters, it should immediately implement appropriate measures and arrange a security fence along the Sion-Panvel highway for the protection of the said mangrove forest to check unauthorised encroachments.

“The PWD often confiscates our equipment when we go to clear debris. Because both sides are open, illegal dumping of debris is rampant. They should build a barricaded wall to protect on both sides so that the footpath will be secured and nobody can dump debris,” she added.

However, the PWD is emphatic about keeping the maintenance of the Sion-Panvel Highway with itself. “It is a toll road and we have already submitted an affidavit to that effect,” said Kalyani Gupta, executive engineer, multi-division, Chembur, PWD.

“The dumping happens in the BMC’s jurisdiction and not on the highway. The BMC itself often dumps garbage by placing their dustbins on our highway. We cannot handover the Sion-Panvel highway at least until 2050. There is after all a 3,000 crore construction cost claim on that road. Will the BMC shell out that kind of money to take over? The PWD collects toll and maintains the road. Unless its original cost isn’t recovered by PWD, the question of handing it over to the BMC does not arise.”

In September 2022, when the Bombay high court (HC) summoned civic chief and administrator Iqbal Singh Chahal over pothole-ridden roads in the city, he told the HC bench that 2,050km of Mumbai roads are with them and about 500km are with the other 15 agencies in the city. Chahal had told HC that the entire city of Mumbai cannot be pothole-free until the BMC becomes the sole agency to look after the maintenance work.

The PWD in an affidavit said that Maharashtra has a total of 3,23,108km of motorable roads, of which 9,8,189km of roads are under them. In Mumbai, they have the Sion-Panvel highway and that it does not have potholes.

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