Even after spending Rs2,000 crore over 11 years to keep the city flooding-free, the civic body has managed to complete only 70% of the work under the Brihanmumbai storm water drains (Brimstowad) project until 2016. That’s not all. The corruption in the work that was carried out ensured the city was waterlogged after the first few showers in 2015.
The manifesto of the ruling Shiv Sena and Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) before the 2012 elections had promised works under Brimstowad would be completed by 2013. Unfulfilled, the promise is likely to now be a part of the manifestos for the upcoming civic elections too.
While the desilting work did not give respite to the city, it ensured the ruling alliance squabbled with each other over the issue.
Under the Brimstowad project, the BMC was to widen and deepen the city’s 200-km-long drainage network and construct eight pumping stations in the city. The civic body has, so far, completed the construction of five pumping stations, one is under construction and two others remain on paper.
The BMC was to widen, deepen and clean the Mithi River, which had flooded during the 2005 deluge. But the work is yet to be completed, even after spending Rs750 crore in the past 10 years. Civic officials said 75% work on the river has been completed so far.
Laxman Vhatkar, director of BMC and chief engineer of SWD, said, “The encroachment by hutments near nullahs is a major hurdle for completion of the project. We have divided our work into two phases and are aiming at completing construction of Guzderbandh pumping station before the monsoon of 2017.”
The BJP claimed credit for bringing out the attempted Rs38 crore desilting scam in the open, which led to the registration of a first information report (FIR) against seven contractors, blacklisting orders against 32 contractors and suspension of 14 civic officials. They also sought to point fingers at the Sena.
Following the scam, the civic body came up with several reform measures by relaxing tender conditions and making attempts to reduce waterlogging in 2016. A senior civic official said, “The nullah desilting was done properly by ward-level labourers this year. For the upcoming monsoon, we have appointed contractors for desilting work worth Rs100 crore before the code of conduct was announced.”