The authorities are aiming for “Smart Cities” throughout the country, which will possess ease of commutation, accessibility and ensure the overall well-being of its citizens.
Although we are racing ahead to being Smart Cities, something fundamental lies relatively unattended—roads.
Even in well-developed cities like Mumbai and Bengaluru, driving on good quality roads for long stretches or walking on well-maintained footpaths seems almost like a myth.
The Bombay High Court observed this imbalance of scaling skyscrapers and unmaintained roadwork and ruled that it is the fundamental right of citizens to enjoy good roads and footpaths.
The bench of Justice Abhay Oka and Justice Riyaz Chagla said, “It is the fundamental right of a citizen to have roads and footpaths in a reasonably good condition, and correspondingly local authorities should provide it to them. All steps should be taken to see that the citizens are not deprived of their rights.”
They further emphasised that it was the responsibility of the civic authorities to give their citizens good roads and footpaths, and should also note down the grievances of citizens promptly and should work to not devoid citizens of this basic fundamental right. Progress over their grievances should also be communicated to them, said the judges.
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“If a citizen suffers as a result of the failure of the state machinery to maintain roads, apart from liability under the regular law of torts, the person can take recourse to public law remedy.
They can initiate action under public law to seek compensation from the authorities,” said the bench.
It has directed the Maharashtra government to frame a policy to ensure roads of good quality are constructed everywhere, and additionally, set up a centralised grievance redressal mechanism so citizens can voice their complaints effectively.
“We are aware of the government’s endeavour to make every city smart. However, no city can become a smart city unless it has roads and footpaths in a reasonably good condition,” observed the High Court bench.
(Edited by Gayatri Mishra)