With at least four deaths attributed to poor roads in the past three months, the anger over Hyderabadâ€™s crumbling roads has possibly reached unprecedented levels.
On Saturday, a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) was filed in the High Court at Hyderabad to ask the Telangana government to immediately repair deteriorating roads in the city.
But even before that, tired of the state's apathy residents took matters into their own hands again. They revived the â€˜Shramadaanâ€™ movement, an initiative started by Hyderabad's 'Road Doctor' in 2012, and spent many days over the last few weeks fixing the city's roads.
Since 2011, sixty-eight year old Gangadhara Tilak Katnam has become a local legend. Having fixed over 1,000 potholes with his pension money, he is referred to as Hyderabad's 'Road doctor'
Among the 'Shramadaan' volunteers, is Hyderabad Big FM VJ Shekar Basha.
Speaking to TNM, Shekar says "We had been filling potholes for a long time before this, but we had stopped during the rains. However, seeing the condition of the roads we have started again."
They have repaired potholes in areas such as Mettiguda, Panjagutta, Safilguda, Malkajgiri, L B Nagar and Tarnaka.
Shekar often does a 'Facebook Live', during the repair works to show the dangers of these roads, to his social media followers.
The video is often accompanied with amusing commentary, which comes naturally to Shekar due to his profession. Watch him here:
Fed up with the apathy, many more people have felt the need to do something about their anger and joined the movement.
"The response has been great. More than 30 people are turning up if needed. However, we do not even need people to volunteer. Only a team of three of four people are required to fill a pothole. We just need them to inform us when they come across risky areas when they are going about the city," Shekar says.
While the 'Shramadaan' team is eager to fill potholes, there have been problems recently.
"The biggest problem we have had is with finding material to fix the roads. We had got some material from Kerala - a ready-made mix of Tar and other materials, but its over now. Also, no matter what materials we get, I am sure the GHMC can arrange for a better quality mixture," says Shekar.
Shekar adds that the team had been stepping out and filling potholes two to three times a week, but now that they are out of material, they are having a tough time to do the job.
"We do not need money or physical labour. We just need the GHMC to provide us with material as a gesture of goodwill," Shekar adds.
Since June 2012, the GHMC was providing 'Shramadaan' with resources and materials required to fill potholes. However, the present administration is allegedly turning a blind eye to them.
"We have been continuously asking the GHMC and we even asked the commissioner, but we have got no response. We are very eager and ready to do the job," Shekar added.
Taking to Facebook, Gangadhara Tilak recently wrote, "These potholes on busy roads don't just work as speed breakers, but also cause neck pains, backbone pains and many problems. The expenditure for vehicle maintenance also goes very high. Sometimes they cause injuries and sometimes they takes lives of people,"
"It is very simple and easy to fill them, before they cause all the above problems. Why is our government neglecting such simple issues, which are causing major problems to citizens? In most of the cities, towns and villages, including in Hyderabad many "Shramadan Soldiers" are eagerly waiting to do volunteer service. The government has to come forward and supply the required material," he added.
(A collage of some of the potholes that were repaired)
Last month, TNM rode from Jubilee Hills to the Secunderabad station, and found that there were craters in many arterial roads in the city, including areas like Panjagutta, near the City Central mall and Clock Tower.
The entire Greenlands flyover in Begumpet had a layer of gravel over it, due to the poor quality of material used to lay the roads.
Watch the video here.
Areas like Safilguda, Neredmet and Malkajgiri is where government apathy is at its worst, with entire roads dug up for a pipeline project a year ago, following which roads are yet to be relaid.