PotHoleRaja: Comrades-in-arms for a good cause

Bengaluru’s social enterprise PotHoleRaja is on a relentless mission to usher in a pothole-free India and they are speeding on this road at full throttle

The road to smoothness is paved with good intentions. Powered by Harvard alumnus Dr Prathap Bhimasena Rao, and Sourabh Kumar, PotHoleRaja is an enterprise intent on making bumpy rides a pain of the past. Vexed by bad roads, and the fatal loss of a friend’s daughter in a pothole-related mishap, Dr Rao founded the enterprise in 2016. Bengaluru software engineer Kumar contacted Dr Rao, who was used to taking smooth turns in the sky as an Air Force fighter pilot, as a volunteer and subsequently joined PotHoleRaja as his civic duty. It was the beginning of a rewarding partnership.

Together they asked citizens through social media and WhatsApp posts to identify potholes in their localities or on their regular routes. In the beginning, they decided to spend out of pocket and make a personal effort to ferry gravel, cement and other necessary materials in their own vehicles. Their story went viral. Volunteers joined the effort and even donated money. A year after PotHoleRaja took off, the two road warriors learned about GridMats—eco-friendly, durable mats made of 100 percent recycled plastic waste, which are used to smooth out craters on pavements and roads. “So far, we’ve installed 5,000 sqm of GridMats. Another ongoing project will cover 30,000 sqm in Bengaluru. Most of these are private roads,” says Kumar.

Shilpi Madan for The Sunday Standard

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