Dadarao Bilhore: The “Pothole Dada” of India
Dadarao Bilhore is an inspiring Indian dad who turned his sorrow and grief for his dead son into action to save others. Dadarao lost his 16-year-old son Prakash due to a pothole-related road accident. Read about the inspiring story of Dadarao Bilhore and how he became the ‘Pothole Dada’ of India.
Deaths Caused By Potholes
Ministry of Road Transport and Highways data reveals that approximately 5,626 people died from pothole-related road accidents between 2018 and 2020.
Potholes are one of the reasons India ranks number one in road accidents, with more than 1 50,000 deaths per year. According to NCRB, 5% of road deaths are due to open maintenance hole covers or potholes.
This avoidable disaster can be easily fixed by ensuring proper road construction and regular inspection, survey, and maintenance of the road. Still, it needs to be done due to inefficiency or cost-cutting, and those responsible for such accidents rarely get punished.
The Pothole Dada of India
Dadarao Bilhore was an ordinary vegetable vendor in Mumbai when he lost his 16-year-old son in July 2015. Dadarao’s son Prakash was traveling with his cousin on a bike during the night when they fell into a pothole filled with water, and he died. The cousin suffered injuries but was saved, whereas Prakash was not lucky.
Dadarao’s family was devastated by the death of their son. He had recently passed his 10th board exams and had a bright future ahead but was unfortunately taken away in such a tragedy. Dadarao, in the hope of justice for his son, filed complaints to the police for negligence, causing death. The police investigation found that the pothole was there due to construction work, but no warning signs and barricades were present at the place of the accident.
Disappointed by the police, Dadarao visited other government officials to discuss the matter, but that, too, was a failure. In the end, being fed up, he decided to do something independently.
Within one month of his son’s death, he started going out on the streets and filling potholes. In his own words, this was his way of dealing with grief. He said every time he filled a pothole, he felt he had saved one Prakash. This way, he thought he was doing something to prevent someone from sharing the same fate as his son.
He explained that he was deeply frustrated with the authorities who waited for someone to die and file FIRs to fill the potholes. He didn’t mind doing the hard work and getting dirty if it meant at least one life could be saved. He didn’t want any parent to go through what he did. Soon people started noticing him and asking about his work and why he did it. He started telling people his story, and it started spreading among the locals.
Dadarao Bilhore has now filled more than 1500 potholes. He says his dream is to fill all the potholes in India. More people have joined his mission with the name of “Potholes Warrior.” He speaks with such a significant population; even if 1 lakh people are responsible for filling potholes, all potholes will vanish from India.
Dadarao’s efforts have come to fruition, with more people joining the cause and collaborating with BMC. The group has made an app called “Spothole,” where one shares the location of the pothole and BMC, and the group fills it. He is also gaining support from other states such as Karnataka, Kerala, Telangana, and Andhra Pradesh. His vision, though, expands to the whole nation and wants to prevent potholes caused death all over India.
Dadarao’s inspirational story literally embodies the quote, “Be the change you wish to see in the world.” What started as a way of dealing with grief has now become a dream and act which has saved numerous lives and will continue to do so. Though one may think this story is about responsibility and action, it is more about hope and optimism.
How Dadarao, even after facing disappointment with police and government authorities, never lost hope. He channeled his grief into action and compassion to save others from going through the same pain. These all teach us about maintaining hope and optimism even during grief and sorrow. Dadarao Bilhore has gained several awards and recognition for his work in the past few years. He has also shared his story and vision on several platforms, including Ted Talks. His mission and vision have inspired several people all over India who have united against fighting for the cause