The Gujarat High Court recently expressed dismay at the state of roads in the city of Ahmedabad, and granted Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation four weeks' time to come up with a vigilance inquiry report on contracts and work orders over the damage sustained by city roads.
"It appears that though crores of rupees are spent by the Corporation out of the public money (the tax recovered from the citizen), the result is not achieved and the public roads are not constructed and/or maintained in good condition and ultimate sufferer is the citizen," the Bench comprising Justice M.R. Shah and Justice B.N. Karia observed.
During the hearing, the Court opined that when crores of rupees are spent, there exists a legitimate expectation on the part of the citizens that the Corporation would ensure good condition of city roads.
"However, it appears that either due to poor material used in the construction/ maintenance of the roads by the contractors and/ or the scientific method is not used, there is a large scale damage to the public roads in the city of Ahmedabad. Even it can prima facie be said that the concerned Officers failed to perform their statutory duties," it further observed.
The Court was hearing a PIL filed by one Mr. Mustak Kadri, seeking directions to authorities to ensure that proper roads are constructed and a proper monitoring mechanism is created to prevent future damage.
Agreeing with the contentions raised by Mr. Kadri, the Court directed the Municipal Commissioners to take immediate steps to repair and resurface roads. He will have to submit a detailed report on the action taken by September 11, when the matter has been posted for further hearing.
The Bench issued the following orders for the time being:
"(1) As assured by and on behalf of the Commissioner, Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation, the Vigilance Cell which is reported to be an independent cell to inquire into the pathetic condition of the public roads in the city and also inquire into the role of the concerned contractors and also with respect to the concerned officers who might have failed to perform their duties. The aforesaid exercise shall be completed within the period of 4 weeks from today and submit the report before this Court in the present proceedings. The aforesaid inquiry shall be supervised and monitored by the Commissioner, Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation himself and it is directed to see to it that the inquiry is conduct absolutely in a fair, independent and shall have transparency.
(2) The Municipal Commissioner, Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation to place on record the following information on affidavit.
(a) In last two years the budgetary provisions made for the purpose of construction and maintenance of the public roads.
(b) The actual amounts spent/made to the contractors and/or others for construction and maintenance of the public roads of last two years.
(c) The names of the contractors to whom the contracts are awarded to construct and maintain the public roads in the last two years along with the terms and conditions on which the contracts are awarded.
(d) The actual payment made to the respective contractors and amount still due and payable to the concerned contractors.
(e) The measurement books maintained by the concerned authorities which would demonstrate and show the payment made, be produced.
(3) Over and above the above, the Commissioner, Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation and/or the appropriate authorities of the Corporation are hereby directed to see to it that what is submitted by Shri Trivedi, learned Advocate General appearing on behalf of the Corporation, observed hereinabove, is complied with and the Commissioner and concerned Officers are directed to act as submitted by Shri Trivedi, learned Advocate General, referred to hereinabove.
(4) Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation to give the public notice/ advertisement in the local newspapers having wide circulation informing the public to whom the complaints can be made; who will be the Appropriate Authority/ Officer. The Corporation shall also give the particulars of the toll free number of the Grievance Redressal Cell. As and when any such complaints are received, the same shall be attended by the concerned Assistant City Engineer/ Deputy City Engineer of the concerned Zone/ Ward and on failure, as suggested by Shri Trivedi, learned Advocate General appearing on behalf of the Corporation, the concerned Assistant City Engineer of the concerned Zone/ Ward can be held/ made responsible.
(5) Commissioner, Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation is hereby directed to see to it that all necessary immediate steps are taken to repair and/or resurface the damaged roads and to see to it that the public roads are constructed and maintained in a good condition.
(6) Commissioner, Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation to submit the detailed compliance report on the next date of hearing."