Intended to improve the city's mechanism to flush out floodwater in case of heavy rains, the Brihanmumbai Storm Water Drains project (Brimstowad) is far from completion even four years after its launch and its cost has jumped from Rs 1,200 crore in 2007 to Rs 3,535 crore today.
Now, the Central government has refused to pay any more than what it had promised back in 2007 and the project is unlikely to be ready by 2012, its original deadline. Officials say it may be completed by 2014.
The mess over Brimstowad is a clear indication of why Mumbaiites are not sure the civic body or the state government will be able to prevent a 26/7-like scenario where scores of people were stranded, many lost their lives and homes and when Mumbai came to a standstill.
The BMC had recently written to the central government urging it to fund the escalated cost but the latter refused.
"The shifting of project-affected people, change in technology used in construction and increase in the on-site work and time taken by the environmental ministry for issuing clearances for the project-led to the cost-escalation and delay in completion. We are now looking at a 2014 deadline," said Laxman Vhatkar, chief engineer, storm water department of the BMC.
The state government too admitted there was a delay. "Lack of planning and several hurdles like encroachments cause delays in projects. There needs to be a strong political will at the local level to tackle this problem," said Mumbai guardian minister Jayant Patil.
The BMC, which doesn't have enough funds, is hopeful of somehow getting the required funding. "We will submit a report to the central government explaining the reasons for the cost escalation," said additional municipal commissioner, Aseem Gupta.