The recent inundation in areas around Parel, Hindmata and parts of Byculla could have been averted if civic officials had paid heed to a warning by a contractor to remove blockages in drains.
Hindustan Times now has documents which show that RPS Mehta, one of the two contractors responsible for clearing the blocked drains which led to the flooding, had alerted senior civic officials, including BMC chief Sitaram Kunte about the necessity to remove blockages.
“Unless the contractor on downward stream removes their pardhi (blockage wall), we can’t remove ours or else it will cause high level of water stagnation in drain. If these walls are not removed, they can cause disastrous flooding in the Parel area, especially,” says a letter by Mehta addressed to senior officials in May.
HT has documents which show that everyone from the deputy chief engineer of storm water drains, who has now been suspended, to additional municipal commissioner Aseem Gupta and Kunte, knew about the warning.
“It is true that we were intimated about the blockages. However, it was the job of both these contractors to remove these.” Gupta added, “Our engineers had checked on these contractors and one contractor had, in fact, lied to our engineer saying that the blockage had been removed. Hence, the BMC cannot be held responsible for this.”
According to civic sources, the contractors had not removed the blockages since the work on the drains was not over yet. Sources said that there were a total of six wall-blockages that were supposed to be removed. Of this, only one had been removed. On Monday, the BMC had to take immediate action to demolish the remaining blockages.