NAGPUR: Maharashtra PWD Minister Chandrakant Patil apologised today in the Legislative Council for his remarks on pothole-ridden roads which have led to a string of fatal mishaps in the Mumbai region.
"I express apology if my statement (on bad roads) conveyed insensitivity on the issue," he said in the House.
Speaking to reporters in Sangli on Saturday, Patil had said pothole-ridden roads alone can't be blamed for accidents.
"When you talk about a death in such an accident, you forget that five lakh other people have travelled on the same road. You can not put the entire blame on the (condition of) roads alone," he had said.
Patil's comments had invited criticism from opposition parties.
Five people lost their lives due to damaged roads in the Mumbai region in the last two weeks.
Speaking in the Upper House today, the minister said it was the responsibility of municipal corporations to fill up potholes in their respective limits.
Patil said he has been constantly monitoring the condition of roads.
"Last year, I travelled in almost all the 36 districts of the state to review the work of filling up potholes. Similarly, from last year we are giving two-year annual maintenance contract wherein the contractor is required to fill up potholes which come up in this period," he said.
"Besides, all the roads in Maharashtra will be of cement concrete (instead of bitumen) in the coming years. Also, 22,000km of national highways will be made of cement concrete," he said.
Despite heavy rains, pothole-filling work is going on across the state, the minister said.
Sanjay Dutt (Congress) had raised the issue of deaths on roads due to potholes in Mumbai and other parts of the state.
Earlier, Dutt said the issue was very serious and criticised Patil for his statement in Sangli.
Leader of Opposition Dhananjay Munde of the NCP and other members like Bhai Jagtap had also raised the issue of potholes and demanded a special discussion on it.