Mumbai dad fills holes in roads to heal hole in heart

Mr Dadarao Bilhore filling up a pothole in Mumbai last month. He decided to fix the city's shoddy roads after his 16-year-old son was killed in an accident involving a pothole.
Mr Dadarao Bilhore filling up a pothole in Mumbai last month. He decided to fix the city's shoddy roads after his 16-year-old son was killed in an accident involving a pothole.PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

MUMBAI • Mr Dadarao Bilhore smooths 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 father decided to do something about Mumbai's roads, which like much of the rest of India's are notoriously shoddy. Using sand and gravel collected from building sites, he has filled in almost 600 potholes in the city in 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 honour him. I also don't want anyone else to lose a loved one like we have," Mr Bilhore said at the modest apartment he shares with his wife, daughter and extended family.

Prakash was riding pillion when the motorbike he was on with his cousin hit a pothole, sending them flying through the air. Prakash, who was not wearing a helmet, suffered fatal brain damage. His cousin, who had a helmet, escaped with minor injuries.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 15, 2018, with the headline 'Mumbai dad fills holes in roads to heal hole in heart'. Print Edition | Subscribe