Panaji, Oct 10 : Potholes on Goa's rain-ravaged roads appear to have become the flavour of the journey on the road to the 2022 state Assembly polls.
With little maintenance and unusually monsoon heavy showers, potholes have also become the subject of political criticism as well as social media memes, forcing Chief Minister Pramod Sawant to dare Public Works Department (PWD) officials as well as to assure people in the poll-bound state to fix all potholes on the state's roads by November 1.
The opposition though appears unwilling to buy Sawant's promise to mend national highways, west coast roads, state highways, major district roads and other roads, which span around 3,685 km.
"I challenge the Chief Minister to fix and hotmix all rural, major district, district, internal roads, state and national highways..If he completes all these roads, even we will support him," former deputy Chief Minister and PWD Minister for nearly 15 years Sudin Dhavalikar has said.
Dhavalikar's challenge comes after Sawant at a function organised by the PWD had dared officials of the department to ensure that all potholes on the state's roads are fixed by November 1.
Sawant's assurance to do away with every pothole translated as 'khoddo' in Konkani became a subject of social media memes, drawing on the interpretation of the word 'khoddo', which also means 'bald-headed' in the local language.
Former Goa Aam Aadmi Party general secretary and former journalist Pradeep Padgaonkar, who sports a bald pate himself, uploaded a sarcastic video saying: "Hello friends, if you have any work with me from November 1 onwards, you should come home to meet me.
I will not be seen on roads from November 1."
The video has gone viral --https:www.facebook.com/pradeep.padgaonkar/videos/238848408207076
To highlight the issue of bad roads in Goa, especially potholes, Congress workers earlier this week protested by sleeping in the crater-like holes in major roads.
Congress leader Meghashyam Raut was arrested for staging the unique 'sleep-in' protest on potholed roads in Bicholim sub district in North Goa district.
The protest was a part of the Youth Congress' statewide photography event, the 'spot the pothole' contest which has invited entries in the form of photographs of potholes.
"We are offering attractive prizes for the best photo entries like power banks, mobile phones and other electronic gadgets," state Youth Congress president Varad Mardolkar said.
Videos of common citizens slathering potholes with cement in order to fix roads in their respective localities have also gone viral on social media over the last few weeks.
Goa's PWD Minister Deepak Pauskar has, however, slammed the efforts to defame the government using the condition of roads as a ruse.
He also accused the government's critics of zooming in on potholes to exaggerate the condition of roads.
"Some people have taken pictures and video and zoomed in on them to expand the size of the potholes.
It is not correct. The government is serious about fixing this issue. All the roads in the state will be carpeted afresh by December," Pauskar said.
With the state headed for polls in early 2022, potholed roads in particular and poor upkeep of infrastructure are expected to feature in the Opposition armoury.