[Mumbai Goa Highway] “Not Taking Issue Of Potholes Seriously”: Bombay HC Comes Down Heavily on NHAI

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The High Court took note of the geo-tagged pictures of the potholes on the Panvel Indapur stretch and came down heavily on the National Highway Authority of India.

A Division Bench of Chief Justice Dipankar Datta and Justice Abhay Ahuja on Monday pulled up the National Highway Authority of India for not taking ‘seriously’ the issue of potholes on the Mumbai Goa Highway (NH 66).

The High Court was hearing a Public Interest Litigation(PIL) filed against the time being taken by the NHAI to complete the reconstruction and the extension of the Mumbai Goa Highway.

During the earlier hearing on October 10, the petitioner had filed an affidavit and pointed out, along with the photographs of the potholes and the poor condition of NH 66. The petitioner had also submitted that due to poor conditions of the road, there had been causalities on the highway between Panvel to Indapur.

The High Court had then directed the NHAI to carry out repairs in order to prevent further causalities. The division bench had also said that if any incident of casualty arising out of poor road conditions is brought to the benches’ notice, the same will be dealt with strong hands.

Thereafter, the NHAI filed its affidavit on 7 November wherein it said that the roads are motorable. However, the petitioner appearing in person pointed out in his rejoinder the geotagged photographs of the potholes.

Advocate Pechkar during the hearing said, "How can they call this motorable?"

The bench responded to this by saying, “For them, where a motor vehicle can go is a motorable road”.

Advocate Pechkar also quoted Sudha Murthy, the Chairperson of the Infosys Foundation, and said that “Konkan is heaven, however, the roads leading to this heaven are bad".

The court in its order stated that if the photos were to be believed, the NHAI seemed to not have taken the matter so seriously.

The Government Pleader PP Kakade informed the court that the amount of 15 crores was transferred to the forest department for the route which goes through the forest. The Public Works Department of the Maharashtra Government then informed the court that work will begin shortly in the forest. 

The Division Bench then directed NHAI to fill the potholes between the Panvel – Indapur stretch and file its affidavit by 23rd December. The matter will be taken up on 4 January again.