Not many in Mumbai know Dadarao Bilhore or care for the cause he has taken up since the death of his son last year. However, the latest Road Accidents Report, published by the Union Transport Ministry shows why the cause championed by Bilhore should matter to people in Maharashtra.
Bilhore lost his son Prakash in a road accident near Marol in Andheri, Mumbai in July, 2015. Since then, Bilhore has been filling up potholes wherever he spots them, using paver blocks, stones and sand.
According to a report published by the ministry, as many as 812 people lost their lives in Maharahstra because of potholes in 2015. This means, poorly maintained roads in the state claim an average two lives a day.
Maharashtra has witnessed a shocking 700 per cent increase in the number of deaths due to potholes in 2015. The number of pothole related accidental deaths in 2014 was 124. It shot up to 812 in 2015, reveals a report prepared by the transport research wing of the ministry.
Last year, in Ambernath, a mother-daughter duo fell from scooter. Mother died on the spot and the police booked the injured daughter for negligent driving although the accident was caused by a huge crater on the road. Accidents like this are an everyday affair in the state, but the contractors responsible for shoddy roads are never punished.
The BJP, Congress and the MNS had targeted Shiv Sena over potholes in Mumbai. The MNS and the Congress blamed Shiv Sena-BJP run Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) for the pathetic condition of roads. The MNS had organised a ‘dance protest’ around potholes while the Congress had organised a 'pothole tour' of the city to expose BMC’s claim that there were just over 60 potholes in Mumbai.
Even as politicians continue their battles, hardly anyone among them is willing to get down to real work to address the issue of pothole ridden roads. Perhaps they could take cues from crusaders like Dadarao Bilhore.