In­dian man fills pot­holes out of love for dead son

China Daily (Hong Kong) - - WORLD -

MUMBAI — Dadarao Bilhore smoothes the road sur­face, rests his shovel, looks to the sky and prays for his son, one of thou­sands of In­di­ans killed ev­ery year in ac­ci­dents caused by pot­holes.

Prakash Bilhore, a promis­ing stu­dent, was just 16 when he died in July 2015 in Mumbai, In­dia’s hec­tic fi­nan­cial cap­i­tal of 20 mil­lion peo­ple.

To help deal with his grief, Prakash’s dev­as­tated father Dadarao de­cided he would do some­thing about Mumbai’s roads, which like much of In­dia’s, are shoddy.

Us­ing sand and gravel col­lected from build­ing sites, Bilhore has filled in al­most 600 pot­holes across In­dia’s fi­nan­cial cap­i­tal over the past three years.

The 48-year-old veg­etable ven­dor does it to pay trib­ute to his beloved son and in the hope that it will save lives.

“Prakash’s sud­den death left a huge void in our lives. I do this work to re­mem­ber and honor him.

“I also don’t want any­one else to lose a loved one like we have,” Bilhore said at the modest apart­ment he shares with his wife, daugh­ter and ex­tended fam­ily.

Prakash Bilhore was trav­el­ing pil­lion when the mo­tor­bike he was on with his cousin hit a deep pot­hole, send­ing them both fly­ing through the air.

Prakash, who wasn’t wear­ing a hel­met, suf­fered fa­tal brain dam­age. His cousin, who was wear­ing a hel­met, walked away with mi­nor in­juries.

The ac­ci­dent oc­curred dur­ing Mumbai’s sum­mer mon­soon sea­son when heavy rains are blamed for caus­ing crater­like holes on the teem­ing coastal city’s roads.

Pot­holes are so com­mon that a cam­paign is un­der way to have Mumbai fea­tured in the Guin­ness Book of Records as the city with the most pot­holes.

The gov­ern­ment needs to take re­spon­si­bil­ity and cre­ate bet­ter in­fra­struc­ture.” Dadarao Bilhore,

Navin Lade, a res­i­dent, claims to have recorded more than 27,000 holes on the web­site www.mum­baipot­, al­though local of­fi­cials dis­pute his find­ings.

Ten deaths a day

Gov­ern­ment sta­tis­tics show that pot­holes were re­spon­si­ble for the deaths of 3,597 peo­ple across In­dia last year, an av­er­age of 10 a day.

Cit­i­zens blame gov­ern­ment ap­a­thy, ac­cus­ing local au­thor­i­ties of fail­ing to main­tain roads prop­erly.

Ac­tivists said con­trac­tors hired to repave roads do a bad job on pur­pose so the work will need to be done again the fol­low­ing year.

“The gov­ern­ment needs to take re­spon­si­bil­ity and cre­ate bet­ter in­fra­struc­ture,” said Bilhore.

He said he has re­paired 585 pot­holes, many of them alone; oth­ers with the help of vol­un­teers who are in­spired by his story.

Bilhore has been fea­tured in count­less In­dian news­pa­per ar­ti­cles and re­ceived sev­eral awards, earn­ing him the nick­name “pot­hole dada”, an af­fec­tion­ate term in In­dia for a re­spected male.

“As long as I am alive and can walk I will get rid of all of these pot­holes,” he said.

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