Potholes, Manholes & Assholes
Columns, In Black & White

Potholes, Manholes & Assholes

Before you claim the word ‘asshole’ is in bad taste and send me hate mails, stop and channel that displeasure towards your local government that constantly digs up an old manhole after it has just laid a new road on it.

And before you call me to say I have no sense of public decency, please make a phone call to the authorities who have allowed our roads to be filled with puddles and footpaths turned into trenches.

And after you do this, please look up the meaning of ‘asshole’ because apart from being the name of an orifice, it also means a stupid or contemptible person.

Now, isn’t a government body, a local leader, a government contractor or an engineer who puts the life of his fellow citizens at risk because of his greed and callousness a contemptible person? Well, even Supreme Court thinks so.

The Supreme Court has found something very “unacceptable and frightening” and it’s not corruption or terrorism, but potholes! This, after the Court appointed Committee on road safety showed data that potholes had killed more Indians than terrorism !

It seems last year, there were 803 deaths due to terror attacks and Naxal strikes, while potholes claimed 3,597 lives !

The Supreme Court, while calling these deaths as “A tragedy that arises only due to lack of concern by authorities,” also rued saying, “Unfortunately, no criminal action is taken against authorities for their negligence.” It then sought a response from the government on how to address this problem. But isn’t this like asking the fox to find a way to protect the chickens from the fox itself?

After all, in most cases it is the law-maker himself who forces bureaucrats to give public works contracts to their “party” approved contractors.

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May be, the Court can ask the Police to do their job instead because there is already a provision in law to book cases against institutions and people who put citizens’ life at risk.

Under Section 304A of Indian Penal Code “Whoever causes the death of any person by doing any rash or negligent act not amounting to culpable homicide, shall be punished with imprisonment of two years, or with fine, or with both.”

But the Police, to save their fellow government servants, book the victims instead ! Like it happened in both Bengaluru and Mumbai.

In Bengaluru, the Police booked a man for negligent driving when in fact he lost balance after hitting a pothole on Deevara-beesana-halli flyover throwing his wife, who was riding pillion, to the ground killing her !

In Mumbai too, when a lady went to file a case against the road contractor as the pothole had caused an accident killing her mother riding pillion, she was shocked when the Police booked a case against her instead. The Thane Police even had the audacity to say, “Driving carefully is the responsibility of the driver and she was negligent so we have booked her”!

But when it comes to VVIPs the law is conveniently applied like it happened in Delhi where the Delhi Court punished a PWD Assistant Engineer as he had “remained negligent in discharging his official duty and did not prevent breeding of Aedes mosquitoes in the District Court Complex.”

Well, it seems five Judges fell sick due to the mosquito problem. We wonder if that Thane Police Officer would dare tell the mosquito-bitten Judges that it is their responsibility to apply odomos knowing there were mosquitoes and refuse to book the PWD engineer?

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Worse is when road work is never completed and manholes are fixed in unscientific manner which becomes dangerous for motorists as it is either below road level becoming a pothole or above road level becoming a road hump.

Also piling up debris for months after a manhole is covered not only hinders traffic but becomes cause for accidents at nights.

This manhole near Yadavagiri under-bridge was fixed six months ago but the protective stones continue to lie on the road posing danger.

It’s ironic that most public works — the very exercise to do something good for the public — are done in a manner that is most unsafe for the public and now, after road humps and dug up footpaths, we have a new problem in Mysuru.

It is the menace of barricades — Barricades on two-way roads to allow Police trainees to pass three times a day while creating a traffic jam all day !  It’s raining barricades in Mysuru now as they are found fallen on Highways and are found covering open manholes for months on end.

For now, may be the Supreme Court can ask the political parties to pass the Motor Vehicle Amendment Bill 2017 that has been stuck in the Rajya Sabha since April 2017 even though it has been passed by the Lok Sabha.

This Bill has an important amendment that holds road contractors, consultants and civic bodies accountable for accidents caused due to faulty design, construction and poor maintenance of roads.

If this Bill passes and as people hold government bodies and personnel accountable before a competent judiciary, we will be free from greedy “contemptibles.”

e-mail: [email protected]

December 8, 2018

ONE COMMENT ON THIS POST To “Potholes, Manholes & Assholes”

  1. Manava says:

    Today’s independent India, almost all politicians and administrators are corrupt and hence, fit to be called ” assholes”. Each pothole standouts as a testament to bad planning and contractual arrangements where both parties:the contract giver, meaning the local government consisting of politicians and officials and the contract taker have pocketed enough cash!

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