Though the civic body is busy with its annual ritual of cleaning nullahs and repairing roads before the monsoon sets in, what it is doing won’t be enough to prevent flooding.
This is what a team of six experts put together by HT — including former civic officers, corporators, activist and urban planning expert — said after conducting an audit to assess the work done by the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation.
On June 2, the team visited 16 trouble spots. At most spots, the quality of the work done was unsatisfactory. Drains had not been cleaned properly and roadwork was shoddy. The team has rated the BMC work at a mediocre 5 on 10.
At Nehru Nagar nullah in Vile Parle, and Chamdawadi nullah in Bandra, silt was piled high on the side of the nullah. If not cleared, it will flow back once it rains. Also, slum dwellers dump garbage in it. “It shows that the solid waste management and storm water drains department aren’t working in tandem. People near the nullahs have no way to dispose waste,” said Nandkumar Salvi, former chief engineer (storm water drains).
Repair of the Elphinstone bridge has not begun, while the Milan subway flyover is still not ready. Of the proposed eight pumping stations, which drain out water and reduce flooding, only two — at Haji Ali and Irla — are operational.
Pankaj Joshi, executive director, Urban Design Research Institute, said the need is increased public participation. “The BMC must engage with people. Citizens need to be made aware so that they stop throwing garbage in nullahs.”
Civic chief Sitaram Kunte said: “The BMC’s pre-monsoon measures are like health insurance. They may not guarantee a flood-free city, but will prove effective if such a situation arises.”
What HT found at Airport culvert
After much criticism for years, the BMC has widened the airport culvert by constructing two new culverts alongside. When HT visited the spot, the new culverts were not functional. If they are not opened during the monsoon, the area around the airport will see severely flooding.
“No floating material was found at the culvert, but it should be opened before the monsoon.”
ASIF ZAKARIA, panelist
What HT found at Versova metro station
The MMRDA has built the columns of the metro line on the drains, which has destroyed the storm water drains. The MMRDA claims it has built another drain and connected it to the earlier system, but neither the workers at the spot nor the panelists could locate the
connection. Our experts believe this area will face severe water-logging.
“The MMRDA has built columns on the storm water drains, but has not made adequate provision for water to flow out. If this is not sorted out, this area will flood. ”
What HT found at Chamdawadi Nullah
Located alongside shanties, a section of the nullah has no access, locals said. As a result, the BMC has not done desilting with a JCB machine. When HT visited the spot, two days after the deadline, workers were manually cleaning the nullah, an uphill task that is not likely to be very effective as silt and plastic have accumulated for years there.
“The nullah is in dismal condition because of the huge volume of material being thrown in. The encroachments around the nullah makes it tough to clean it.”
What HT found Keshavsut bridge
The repair work carried out on this BMC flyover located outside Dadar railway station (west) in the beginning of May is extremely shoddy. It looks like the work was done in patches and poor resurfacing is likely to create trouble for motorists this monsoon, just as it did the last time around.
“The asphalt work on this flyover is in progress, and so far it has been improperly done. Ideally, asphalt work must be completed by May 10.”
Nandkumar Salvi, panelist
What HT found at Mogra Nullah
Untreated sewage floats in the nullah and the desilting work done is far from adequate. Areas around the nullah are chronic water-logging spots and residents living around are unlikely to get any relief from flooding.
“Untreated raw sewage from pumping stations is constantly being discharged into this
nullah by the BMC, which is a violation of rules.”
ASIF ZAKARIA, panelist
What HT found at Nehru Nagar Nullah
The nullah has slums on one side and VM Road that sees heavy traffic on the other. It does not look like it has been even superficially cleaned. The absence of cleared silt piled on the side of the nullahs suggests that no pre-monsoon work has been done here.
“This nullah is full of floating waste, with no sign of silt removal. The constant dumping of waste into the nullah is a serious concern.”
PANKAJ JOSHI, panelist
Meet the experts
“It can rain more than 75mm a day, but the storm water collection and disposal system has not been upgraded to cope with this. Only two of the 187 outfalls [from where flood water flows into the sea] have pumping stations, which is a problem.”
Prakash Sanglikar, retd deputy civic commissioner (environment and waste management), consultant with World Bank for storm water drain projects
“Growing infrastructure and lack of open spaces, the city’s water-holding areas, have put tremendous pressure on the storm water drains. The capacity of the nullahs to hold rainwater and construction of pumping stations need to be speeded up.”
Nandkumar Salvi, Retired first chief engineer, storm water drains department, who was instrumental in drafting blueprint of storm water drains overhaul
“The BMC needs to set up a trajectory for the completion of its projects. It needs to ensure that the deadlines are met and that people are periodically informed about the progress of the work.”
Pankaj Joshi, Executive director of Urban Design Research Institute, an organisation that looks at urban development issues in cities. He has served on the city’s heritage conservation committee
“The BMC and the MMRDA need to work in tandem instead of blaming each other, to improve the condition of the city. The BMC also needs to be made more accountable to people so that there is no trust deficit.”
Asif Zakaria, Second-time Congress corporator from Bandra and member of civic standing committee, which takes decisions on tenders for nullahs and roads
“At some spots, the nullahs looked like they had been cleaned. But it is only the floating garbage that has been removed. The BMC has not bothered to remove the hard silt lying underneath. The desilting work has been shoddily conducted.”
Rajkumar Sharma, Citizen activist and member of Action for Good Governance and Networking in India (AGNI)
“People need to be vigilant and keep a check on the activities of the administration. There has to be more transparency in the functioning of the system and NGOs need to work alongside at the grass-root level to improve the situation.”
Parag Alavni, Former two-time BJP corporator from Vile Parle and general secretary of BJP Mumbai unit, who has looked at pre-monsoon work as leader of BJP in BMC