Two days after rain hits Mumbai, BMC chief engineer gets notice for water-logging
Mumbai city news: Water-logging was reported at 41 locations on Monday, far from BMC’s claims of a flood-free monsoon this yearmumbai Updated: Jun 15, 2017 01:38 IST
In a rare move that should serve as a deterrent for civic staff, a top official in the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) was served a show-cause notice for major water-logging in the city on Monday.
Water-logging was reported at 41 locations, far from BMC’s claims of a flood-free monsoon this year.
Additional municipal commissioner Vijay Singhal issued the notice on Tuesday to Laxman Vhatkar, chief engineer of the storm-water drains (SWD) department, for failing to operate the Britannia pumping station at Khar during heavy rain on Monday. The notice also highlighted the department’s failure to operate the Guzderbandh pumping station two weeks after its scheduled inauguration date of May 31.
The move is significant because the BMC usually serves such notices to errant contractors, not the head of a civic department. A senior civic official, on condition of anonymity, said, “It is time we fix responsibility for such lapses.”
These included many areas like Sion, Matunga, Dadar, Worli and Hindmata that HT had highlighted as problem areas in its monsoon audit.
According to sources, the SWD department initiated operations at the Britannia pumping station at Reay Road late on Monday night resulting in water-logging for a longer duration in many areas. Britannia is one of the eight stations planned under the much-delayed Brihanmumbai Storm Water Drain project (Brimstowad).
Sources said Vhatkar has about a week to present his reply.
The BMC had also planned to start operating the Guzderbandh pumping station in Khar by May 31. The date was further postponed to June 9, but it is yet to be inaugurated. The pumping station will help reduce water-logging in the western suburbs.
The source said, “The whole of 2016, municipal commissioner Ajoy Mehta had told the chief engineer to operationalise Guzderbandh by May 31, failing which he will be held accountable for the lapse.”
Vhatkar said he will reply to the notice soon. Officials from the SWD department said they received permissions to cut mangroves for the Guzderbandh project only on June 8, causing the delay.
For Britannia, officials said water-logging was ‘not major’. Despite repeated attempts, Singhal was unavailable for a comment.
James John, an AGNI activist, who was also a panel member for HT’s audit, “Action should have been initiated when the unsatisfactory condition of the nullahs and roads was pointed out a week ago. Every year, the BMC only promises of a flood-free monsoon, but the situation on the ground is horrible. By issuing a show-cause notice, the BMC is just trying to put the onus on one individual.”