Kogilu Cross in Bengaluruâ€™s Yelahanka was witness to a curious sight on Monday evening -- a group of people moved from one filled pothole to the next, closely inspecting them. The Karnataka High Court on Monday set-up a two-member commission to inspect the city's roads in areas that the BBMP claimed were "pothole free". The commission comprised Dinesh Agarwal, Commander Works Engineering of the Military Engineering Services (MES), and Uma MG, Member Secretary of the Karnataka Legal Services Authority.
The Karnataka High Court on Monday came down heavily on the Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) over the growing number of potholes in the city and ordered the civic body to ensure all potholes are filled in the city by the end of the week.
The commission, an independent body which will assess quality of roads as well as inspect potholes, was accompanied by BBMP engineers, inspected the quality of roads in three areas - Yelahanka, Malleshwaram and Mahalakshmi Layout - under the orders of the High Court. The commission was asked to submit a report to the High Court on Tuesday.
The BBMP Chief Engineer (West) Krishnaswamy and Chandrashekhar, the Assistant Executive Engineer (AEE) of Ward No. 1 in Yelahanka accompanied them and faced a barrage of questions from the members of the commission.
The questions mainly focused on the quality of the materials used to fill the potholes in the roads. The members of the commission demanded that the officials disclose the specifics of the contract and mention the materials used to fill the potholes. The members of the commission also expressed their unhappiness over the quality of work.
The Karnataka High Court is hearing the case based on a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) filed in 2015. The court, which initially asked the BBMP to ensure the city was free of potholes by September 20, extended the deadline by three days on the request of the BBMP.
â€śThis petition was filed by residents of Bengaluru in 2015 and we are determined to make Bengaluru a pothole-free city. Today, a commission was set up to inspect pothole-free areas, but when we visited these areas we found potholes obviously and by my understanding, the commission members are not happy with the state of the roads we have seen,â€ť Anuradha SR, the advocate of the petitioner, told TNM.
At the hearing in Court Hall Number 1 of the High Court on Monday, Chief Justice Maheshwari was critical of the BBMP for, what he described as, "years of inaction" leading to a massive problem of potholes in Bengaluru.
"Don't keep waiting for court orders. You (BBMP) have not been able to generate that faith. Talk of the BBMP and distrust, disbelief and dejection are the first things that come to mind. This is a result of years of inaction,â€ť he observed.
He ordered the commission inspect 18 wards in three areas in Malleshwaram, Yelahanka and Mahalakshmi Layout. The decision was made after the judge repeatedly asked the BBMP to state the areas in the city which are free of potholes.
The defendant lawyer representing the BBMP claimed that 7 wards in Malleshwaram, 7 wards in Mahalakshmi Layout and 4 wards in Yelahanka were free of potholes.
The BBMP also handed over a book detailing 385 potholes that have been filled by the civic body in the last few days, complete with before and after pictures from each site.
The Palike claims that it has finished filling up most of the potholes in the city. "We have finished 85% of the work, but we are behind schedule due to the rains last night,â€ť claimed BBMP Mayor Sampath Raj.
The BBMP was asked to fill up all 1655 potholes in the city by September 20 by the High Court, based on a claim made by the Palike itself. The civic body asked for an extension of three days to finish the work, but it appears there is still a long way to go before the BBMP can meet its target.
The High Court, however, is taking the BBMP to task over the issue and has ordered it to complete all the work by the end of this week.