When Dadarao Bilhore, a resident of India's financial capital Mumbai, lost his 16-year-old son in a road accident caused by a pothole in 2015, he decided to embark on a mission to make his city pothole-free.
For years now, Bilhore, 51, has been filling potholes with the help of other volunteers.
On the occasion of the World Day of Remembrance for Road Traffic Victims, which is observed on Sunday, he told Anadolu Agency that he has filled around 1,500 potholes in the city and nearby areas so far and vowed not to stop his work.
"That day, when my son died, I didn't cry; instead, I decided to fight and make our city one day pothole-free," he said. "Since then, I have continued doing this work, and I am satisfied with it because it helps to prevent more deaths. I don't want to see any family shattered like mine."
In July 2015, Bilhore's nephew and son were riding a two-wheeler when they met an accident caused by a pothole. His nephew survived, but his son did not.
Road accidents continue to be a major problem in the country. As per Road Transport and Highways Ministry, some 449,000 road accidents were recorded across India in 2019, in which 151,113 people were killed and 451,361 injured.
While the number of accidents was lower in 2019 compared to 2015, when 501,423 accidents were reported, the number of fatalities increased.
Initially, Bilhore was working alone. Now, he says some of his friends and volunteers have joined.
"Presently, people or friends contact me and give us the location of these potholes, and we then visit and fill them... this usually we do on Sundays," he explained, adding: "We don't want to wait for the authorities, because they take time, so we try to fill them as soon as we come to know so that it doesn't cause an accident."
Bilhore, a vegetable merchant, recently underwent heart surgery, which caused a brief halt to his work. "As soon as doctors declared I'm fit, I'll resume work," he said.
According to him, he has a mobile app developed so that people could report potholes. "It has technical issues which we are working on. This will make it easier for people to report potholes.”
The man has received support not only from the public but from prominent celebrities as well. "I now attend road safety programs and deliver speeches to create awareness on road safety," he said, adding that he received a number of awards from different groups for his work.
In response to a question about his future plans, he stated that he will continue to work as long as he lives.
"My aim is to make our country pothole-free,” he pledged.