In Navi Mumbai, a 26-year-old man, Shanikumar Vishwakarma, suffered fatal head injuries when he fell off his bike after hitting a crater on Thane-Belapur road near Sanpada on Friday night. Vishwakarma was the fifth causality of potholes in Maharashtra since the monsoons began in early June.
Kalpesh Jadhav (26) died after being run over by an unidentified vehicle after he fell off his two-wheeler when it slipped on a pothole in Thane's Kalyan township around the same time as the Sanpada tragedy.
“He lost his balance and fell when the two-wheeler he was riding skidded over a pothole near Gandhari bridge. An unidentified vehicle passing by crushed him under its wheels,” an official of the Khadakpada police station said. A case was registered under IPC section 304A (causing death by negligence) and efforts were underway to identify the vehicle and its driver, he added.
On July 11, a 45-year-old man died after he fell into a water-filled pothole and was run over by a truck on Haji Malang Road in Kalyan. On July 8, a 43-year-old woman riding pillion on a motorcycle was killed on Haji Malang Road after she fell off the vehicle and came under the wheels of a bus.
The five causalities of potholes in a month may not seem justify terror tag but this will - according to a report, in 2017, 3597 people died across India due to injuries accused by potholes. That amounts to roughly 10 deaths a day. In the corresponding period, terror-related incidents claimed 803 lives, a TOI report quoting Centre's data said.
The report says in 2017, Uttar Pradesh logged most pothole deaths at 987. Haryana reported 522 deaths last year.
Who is to be blamed?
The issue of pothole-riddled roads has been at the centre of an acrimonious debate between the governments and the opposition parties.
While potholes were one of the key poll promises during the high-octane Uttar Pradesh Assembly polls last year, the opposition parties in Maharashtra have questioned the government’s claim that the number of potholes on roads in Mumbai and its adjoining areas has reduced considerably over the past four years. Maharashtra Congress has launched a campaign, titled "Aao Potholes Giney" (lets count potholes), and accused Mumbai's civic body BMC of not being prepared for the monsoons.
By law, civic agencies are responsible for maintaining the roads and footpaths, but often the vehicle owners and drivers involved in accident end up being booked for negligent driving. For example, in Kalpesh Jadhav, a case was registered against the driver who crushed him to death after he fell due to the pothole. The authorities usually consider contractors or government officials responsible for potholes as second or third party, if at all, in such cases.
However, this may change soon. The Motor Vehicles Amendment Bill has provisions fine against officials for negligence leading to poor road safety. Although, the proposed law does not specify how the officials will be held liable. The bill is stuck in the Parliament due to disruptions.
Watch video: Potholes terrorise commuters as toll due to faulty roads mounts in Mumbai