The Karnataka High Court on Wednesday directed the Chief Engineer, National Highways Authority of India to inspect the repair work of potholes done by the Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) by appointing private contractors in the city of Bengaluru.
A division bench of Chief Justice Prasanna B Varale and Justice Ashok S Kinagi said,
"We request the Chief Engineer of National Highways Authorities of India, either personally or by deputing a senior official/engineer to inspect the work of repairs of potholes undertaken by BBMP by awarding contract to private contractors as well as work allotted to respondent 11."
The court while doing so referred to previous orders passed in the matter since 2019 and said, "It can be only said that in spite of various orders of this court and pendency of petition for six to seven years, there is no positive outcome. The road conditions in Bengaluru city even after a span of six or seven years, have not changed very positively and the unfortunate sufferers are citizens of the Bangalore city."
On going through the compliance reports submitted by the BBMP, it noted, "This court has observed in various orders passed earlier that due to the conditions of roads and particularly potholes led to unfortunate incidents of losing the precious human life. The reports submitted before the court show that the majority work of repair works and resurfacing of potholes, was awarded to private contractors. The satisfaction of the work done is only in the certification by the officers of BBMP. Thus there is no independent third party assessment of the work undertaken by private contractors."
Following which it said, "We deem it appropriate to seek participation by way of independent third party assistance. Accordingly we request the Chief Engineer of National Highways Authority of India, either personally or by deputing a senior official/engineer to inspect the work of repairs of resurfacing of potholes undertaken by bbmp by awarding contract to private contractors as well as work allotted to resp 11."
It added, "BBMP is directed to hand over all reports submitted to the court including of today, to the office of Chief Engineer, NHAI within one week from today. On receipt of such a report, the Chief Engineer, NHAI or officer deputed to personally visit all these roads, wherein the work of repairs and resurfacing of potholes was undertaken."
The NHAI is to then file within four weeks a report indicating the following things:
1: Whether the work was carried out as per work order?
2: Whether work carried out by contractors is satisfactory?
3: The independent assessment/opinion of the Chief Engineer or nominee appointed by him?
4: Any suggestions by the Chief Engineer or nominee?
Further the court said, "If the chief engineer or nominee finds there is some dereliction of duty on part of BBMP officers, or the failure of the contractor or agency to whom work was assigned, the report may indicate these factors separately."
Finally, the court clarified that the order passed by it today shall not be treated as stoppage of work undertaken by the corporation. Such work undertaken shall proceed further till further orders.
The bench gave the direction while hearing a petition filed in the year 2015 by Vijayan Menon praying for directions for filling up of potholes on major roads and arterial roads in the city and for removing encroachments on storm water drains/ drainage system.
Case Title: Vijayan Menon v. Secretary Urban Development Department
Case No: WP 42927/2015