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100mm of trouble in city

As heavy rain lashed the city, localised flooding and the failure of two pumping stations - at Irla and Haji Ali - made Friday a complete disaster for most Mumbaiites.

mumbai Updated: Jul 09, 2011 02:09 IST

As heavy rain lashed the city, localised flooding and the failure of two pumping stations - at Irla and Haji Ali - made Friday a complete disaster for most Mumbaiites.

The downpour, which started on Thursday night and continued till Friday evening flooded areas such as Sion, Hindmata, Pratiksha Nagar, Chembur, Khar, Powai, Milan and Khar subways. It also delayed trains and affected BEST bus services and led to traffic congestion.

Unwilling to accept that the pre-monsoon drain-cleaning work was not done properly, Aseem Gupta, additional municipal commissioner, blamed the "geographic nature of the city" and "the failure of the automated system at Irla pumping station" for the flooding.

"The automated system is a failure, but we can only change it after the monsoon, so till then if it rains like it did on Friday, these areas will get flooded," said Gupta.

The BMC has spent more than Rs150 crore on the two pumping stations, which are not functioning at optimum levels. The Irla pumping station was expected to make the monsoon flood-free in areas such as the Milan subway, Vakola and Juhu.

After the Haji Ali pumping station developed a technical snag, areas such as Nana Chowk and Tardeo got flooded. Gupta reiterated that Friday's flooding was localised, meaning waterlogging in an area because rainwater there cannot find its way into storm water drains. When HT conducted its pre-monsoon audit - published in its June 7 to 9 editions - its experts panel had warned the BMC of this danger.

"After investing more that Rs1,000 crore in augmenting the drainage system under the Brimstowad project, there is no improvement," said Sameer Desai, Congress corporator.

Corporators also complained that the administration was dragging its feet on the pumping stations, proposed to solve the issue of water-logging after the 2005 deluge, and that only two of the eight pumping stations had been commissioned so far.