The Bombay High Court said the Maharashtra government’s endeavour to make every city “smart” was commendable but it would only be possible when a city’s roads, streets and footpaths were in a good condition and free of potholes.
A division bench of justices A S Oka and P N Deshmukh said it was a citizen’s fundamental right to have good roads, streets and footpaths and people could not be deprived of their rights.
The remarks were made by the high court in its order after it took up the issue of rising number of potholes and poor condition of roads in Mumbai and other districts of Maharashtra, which was leading to death of motorists.
The court said it was the legal and constitutional obligation of the state government and all other local authorities to ensure good roads.
“We are aware of the state governments endeavour to make every city smart. However, no city can be known as smart unless its roads, streets and footpaths are in good condition and pothole-free,” Justice Oka said.
The bench directed the state government to come up with a policy on the terms and conditions in relation to road contracts so as to ensure quality and durability of the work carried out.
“We also direct the state government to set up a centralised grievance redressal mechanism, where citizens can lodge their complaints. A person travelling from one city to another would not know under which authority a particular road falls,” the court said.
Once the government receives a complaint, it can then forward it to the local authority concerned for follow-up action and compliance, the court said.
The bench has directed the state government to set up this centralised mechanism by June 15.
The bench also took note of the death of a city-based doctor after falling into an open manhole during the last monsoon.
“Such unfortunate incidents cannot be repeated. Civic bodies shall take all the necessary precautions to ensure that no manhole is left open and if it is (left open), then necessary warning boards shall be placed near it,” the court said.
The bench has directed the state government to file a compliance report on its directions and posted the petition for further hearing on July 24.
The bench said it hoped that all the municipal corporations and district councils in the state take all the necessary steps by June to ensure good roads before the onset of monsoon.