The municipal corporation’s ambitious plan to widen the stretch of the 18-km Mithi river that runs under the Mumbai airport’s primary runway has hit a roadblock.
Responding to a Right to Information (RTI) query on the status of the project, the corporation, on January 1, said the suggestion made by previous studies to create a channel outside the airport boundary wall at Kurla to ease the river’s flow is “unworkable”.
The Chitale committee set up after the 2005 deluge had recommended widening the Mithi, which empties into the sea at Mahim. The Airports Authority of India then appointed M/s Jacob and the Indian Institute of Technology-Bombay (IIT-B) as consultants to conduct a feasibility study on how it could be done.
Both had recommended that a channel be made outside the airport boundary at Kurla. But the suggestion has been ruled out by the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) because slums and illegal buildings occupy the area.
The first phase of slum relocation, comprising 20,000 hutments, is scheduled to begin in April, but slum dwellers have moved the Bombay High Court opposing the relocation.
The petition claims that their relocation is not in keeping with the national settlement policy, which states that apart from providing homes, the plan should also take into consideration other aspects such as alternate employment.
The BMC has now asked Kapil Gupta from the department of civil engineering at IIT-B to conduct a fresh study on the project to stop flooding in the area during monsoon.
Gupta said: “The study is still on. We can not comment on the possible options.”
Advocate Godfrey Pimenta, who filed the RTI query, has been distributing copies of the BMC response on the project to create awareness among locals. “People should know how the government is sitting on the project,” said Pimenta.