The Bombay High Court on Monday pulled up National Highway Authority of India (NHAI) for not taking seriously the issue of bad condition of a section of the National Highway 66.
The division bench of Chief Justice Dipankar Datta and Justice Abhay Ahuja directed NHAI to fill all potholes on the Panvel to Indapur stretch of the Mumbai-Goa part of NH66 and file a compliance affidavit by December 23, 2022.
"Since there was no positive direction from court to repair potholes, if the photos are to be believed NHAI seems to have taken the matter not so seriously", Justice Dipankar Datta said while dictating the order. The petitioner's affidavit with the photographs shows a "grim picture" of NH 66 between Panvel to Indapur, he added.
The court was hearing a PIL regarding the long time being taken to complete reconstruction of the Mumbai-Goa Highway. The court is monitoring the upgradation (four-laning) of the road while hearing the PIL.
The Bombay High Court on October 10, 2022 had directed NHAI to carry on required repairs on Panvel to Indapur stretch of NH 66 to prevent any further casualty adding that if any incident of casualty arises due to poor road conditions, it will be dealt with "strong hands". The court had posted the matter for further consideration on January 4, 2023.
NHAI on November 07, 2022 submitted its affidavit regarding the same. Petitioner-in-person Advocate Owais Pechkar during the hearing pointed out that NHAI has characterised the Panvel to Indapur stretch as 'motorable'. He brought attention of the court on his rejoinder affidavit filed on November 10, 2022 in which he had attached geotagged photographs showing potholes on the road. The petitioner sought stern action for the same.
The court directed the NHAI to fill all the potholes in the Panvel to Indapur stretch and submit an affidavit showing compliance of the October 10 order by December 23, 2022.
Government Pleader PP Kakade informed the court that the state government on paid over 15 crore rupees to the forest department for work to be done on part of the road covered with forest. Working permission for the same has been received on Nov 14, he said.
The court directed the concerned authorities to proceed in the right direction to bring about the work on Mumbai-Goa part of NH66 and to file a status report for the same by the next date of hearing.
Case No. – Owais Anwar Pechkar v. Union of India and Ors
Case Title – Public Interest Litigation No. 19 of 2021
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