Officials from the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation have admitted, on condition of anonymity, that south Mumbai is at risk of more road cave-ins such as the one that stalled traffic at Peddar Road on Wednesday.
A project to overhaul the city’s colonial era drains, whose collapse leads to such cave-ins, has been underway since October 2010, the officials said, but is at least three years away from completion.
The officials admitted that until these drains are reinforced or replaced, such cave-ins could continue to cause loss of life and property. Three people were killed, for instance, when a portion of the road at Jacob Circle, Mahalakshmi, collapsed in 2008.
One official said that most of the British-era drains are in decrepit condition, requiring urgent repairs or replacement. “These drains, made of brick masonry, have dilapidated due to wear and tear over the years. Fixing them is a complex exercise,” the official said.
The major areas of concern for the civic body are two kinds of drains, the arched/box drains and the closed pipe or dhapa drains. Dhapa drains are primitive drains 2 ft high and 2 ft wide. Such drains stretch a total of 443km in the island city alone and are not even on the BMC’s list of drains that need strengthening and replacement.
“Nonetheless, desilting of the entire network is being carried out to enhance capacity of all old drains, which will then be lined with cement concrete to prevent collapses,” said an official from the stormwater drains department of the BMC. “Once all the rehabilitation work is complete, the life of these drains will increase by 50 years.”