Though the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) said that controlling localised flooding is difficult, citizen groups are trying to ensure that their neighbourhoods aren’t inundated when it pours.
Many, including civic officials and corporators, believe that an active citizenry can help resolve the problem of localised flooding.
One of the experts that conducted the Hindustan Times audit of the city’s monsoon preparedness, environmentalist Rishi Aggarwal, said citizens could play a significant role in reducing flooding. “Localised flooding is all about local factors. There are several ways citizens can reduce it,” he said.
Rajkumar Sharma, of the Diamond Garden Advanced Locality Management (ALM) at Chembur, vouched for it. For years, Sharma and other ALM members have kept a close eye on the desilting and cleaning of their locality’s drainage network. “Most times, civic officials are negligent about cleaning local drains. The trick is to supervise the cleaning as it happens,” he said.
Sharma’s ALM asks the M-West ward office for its drain cleaning schedule and keeps an eye on the work. Sharma said such activism helped them reduce flooding. “Taking an active interest helped. Flooding has reduced in our area,” he said.
Others have made similar efforts, which have gone unappreciated. Anandini Thakoor, of the Khar Residents’ Association (KRA), said: “We spoke to the H-West ward office and asked for a copy of the schedule so that our members could keep a check. However, the officials didn’t give us a copy. Instead, they cleaned the drains without prior notice. They haven’t responded to our repeated requests to coordinate on the issue.”
Despite that, KRA members are inspecting their neighbourhood’s drains and lodging complaints to get them cleaned.
The KRA last year managed to supervise the cleaning on a few roads, which helped reduce flooding.
“Citizens are as responsible for flooding in their areas as the BMC is. Locals should get responsible, right from not dumping garbage into drains to checking whether they have been cleaned,” Thakoor said.
Added Sharma: “If every locality has an ALM that keeps a check on drain cleaning, the flood menace would be easier to tackle.”