Every year in Mumbai, the same drama plays out over potholes. Huge craters appear on the city’s streets and no one knows whose fault it is. Citizens point to the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation, which has been run by the Shiv Sena for several years. They, in turn have blamed the BJP-run Public Works Department. Estimates for the number of potholes range from 62 (the municipal corporation’s version) through 450 (a Congress legislator's version) to 2,000 (a Congress corporator’s version).
This year, they've given two political parties who have been famous for winning very few seats in the last few elections – the Maharashtra Navnirman Sena and the Indian National Congress – the chance to create a furore. The Congress has decided to take an “artistic” route and organise a pothole exhibition that will have pictures of the potholes across the city. They have also started an online campaign to name potholes after BJP leaders.
The MNS, being its usually non-violent self, issued a threat: repair the potholes, or else a ward officer in the municipal corporation will be kidnapped, a corporator from the party said.
Even the 62 potholes whose existence the municipality admits might not be filled up because the corporators say no one knows how to fix it well enough, thanks to substandard material.
And on Thursday, showing how deep this rabbit hole goes, a Rs 352-crore road scam was unearthed for which 10 third-party auditors were arrested by the Mumbai police.
Meanwhile, the netizens of Mumbai resorted to what they do best – making fun of the dire straits of the financial capital's roads on social media.
A city that shares Mumbai's near-constant woes with potholes: London. Last year, the graffiti artist who went by the name of Wanksy got internet fame for designing phalluses around potholes. It could be the solution for Mumbai's problems. For eight months before the art work, the pothole had not been filled. Forty-eight hours afterwards, the road was as good as new.
So far, no reports have emerged like this one from Ireland in 2013 where a young man found a pothole so deep that he went for a swim in it. But the day might not be far off.