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The Bombay High Court today held that citizens have a fundamental right to good roads and it is the state government's statutory obligation to provide roads which are free of potholes.
The observation was made by a division bench of justices A S Oka and C V Bhadang which passed a detailed order on a PIL highlighting the poor condition of roads in the state and incidents of motorists losing their lives due to potholes- ridden roads.
"It is high time that all concerned clearly understand that the right to have properly maintained roads is a part of fundamental rights guaranteed by Article 21 of the Constitution of India and in the event any loss is caused due to its violation, the citizens have a right to seek compensation," the court said.
It directed authorities like BMC, Maharashtra State Road Development Corporation (MSRDC), Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority (MMRDA), Mumbai Port Trust and others which have control over roads in the city to ensure that the potholes are repaired prior to the onset of monsoon and submit compliance report by July 6.
"All municipal corporations shall maintain all roads within its jurisdiction in good and proper condition. It shall be their responsibility to ensure that potholes and ditches are properly filled, and at the time of any repair work a board shall be displayed giving details of the name of agency doing the digging work and the time period within which the work shall be completed," the court said.
The court further held that the authorities' excuse every year that the roads are bad due to heavy monsoon cannot be accepted as every year the monsoon in the city is heavy.
The court also directed all civic bodies in the state, the MMDRA, MSRDC and Mumbai Port Trust to provide a mechanism to enable citizens to file complaints about poor condition of roads.
"The facility of receiving complaints shall be made throughout the year. Websites shall be designed in such a way that citizens can upload photos of the roads and also track their complaints," the court said.
"Unless there is an effective mechanism provided to the citizens to file complaints they will not be in a position to enforce their constitutional as well as legal right to have well maintained streets," the court said.
The court will hear the matter on July 10.