In Focus

Work Overshoots Deadline, Site Engineer Out Of Sight

By A Draft Colaba Correspondent

Colaba's residents are a flabbergasted lot. The residents of Pasta Lanes, in particular, have been tearing their hair out over attempts to get a site engineer, who makes a string of empty promises but disappears soon after, to perform as per mandated requirements.

DODGING DEADLINE: The road construction work has already overshot its date of completion
The rubble strewn everywhere around, the dug up zones placing life and limb at risk as well as open trenches overflowing with rainwater are commonplace sights now. The site engineer continues to dodge the blame citing 'delays in design approvals', 'the rains' and 'work being permitted only at nights owing to traffic,' etc., etc., in a practiced retort each time someone draws his attention to incomplete works.

The BEST Marg footpath, for instance, has been pending completion for over a month now. Despite repeated reminders and public accidents owing to dug-up roads and an associated inability to walk on the pavement, the 'beautification' continues to remain 'in progress.'

HAPHAZARD: The works remain incomplete, posing risk to life and limb of the residents
MCGM's 'road strengthening and improvement' works undertaken at 3rd Pasta Lane from 8 March 2021' and due to 'complete by 31 May 2021' by M/S Gyan Constructions Co has overshot its deadline by nearly a fortnight and yet seems nowhere close to completion.

"It's tiring having to call the site engineer over and over again, almost every second day, with petty issues of debris lying unattended in a heap on the road, blocking passage of pedestrians and parking space for vehicles on one day, or with issues of a footpath being left dug up and incomplete on another," says Sukh Niwas resident Jitendra Ramalingam.

Why, Third Pasta Lane resident Dilip Kanojia who had to take his 93-year-old mother Pyaridevi Kanojia for her COVID vaccine to J J Hospital simply couldn't.

"The entire footpath was broken and there was so much of construction rubble around that she would have definitely taken a fall and things would have spiralled out of hand," recalls the resident, who approached The Draft Colaba with his issue.

AT RISK: Dilip Kanojia with 93-year-old mother Pyaridevi who missed taking her COVID vaccine
And when Mr Kanojia complained to the BMC A Ward office it assured him that the erring contractor would be fined and/or the road cleared. He was also asked to approach the Road and Traffic Department with his complaint.

Jitendra Ramalingam
"There are so many children running around in the lane and it's a matter of time before someone falls and gets hurt badly," says Mr Ramalingam. "Why, even walking on the footpath in the lane is now fraught with risks, thanks to the haphazard road repairs works that just don't seem to end," he said.

The complete lack of transparency and accountability with the civic authorities or elected representatives in Colaba has led to the mess at Ground Zero. Will it take one to succumb to a fall or an accident owing to negligence by the site engineers or the civic authorities for things to change?

A signage detailing the details of the work undertaken by the BMC stands at the end of Third Pasta Lane. The deadline of 31 May 2021 too visible to one and all. While residents wade through the sludge, dodging debris and dug trenches each time they step out of home, the signage stares at them almost sneeringly as if in defiance. 

ROCKY ROAD: Regular piles of rubble and stones are commonplace
The construction workers, answerable to none, do their own thing at stray spots without an idea of the timeline or new deadline. Residents talk of a '15-day grace period offered to the contractor' but without any basis - written or publicly displayed. The site engineer continues to dole out pretexts like a seasoned politician.

The Draft has been fighting for the cause of the common, particularly during the period of the lockdown, representing their interests before relevant officials. It is in keeping with this campaign in sync with The Public Space Project that administrative action bordering on the excessive and arbitrary is analysed, called out and addressed Via Media and By The Law. Keep The Draft independent by making a contribution to The Public Space Project.

This story is part of The Public Space Project in which 108 readers have contributed till date. They include Nishi Walia, Greeshma Nair, Aditya Rao, Nitin Desai, Catherine Menezes, Komal Saini and others. You could contribute by making a one-time or recurring (monthly or annual) contribution.

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