Will Mumbai avoid floods this monsoon? The Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) said over 90% of the monsoon preparation work - cleaning of nullahs - is complete. But an audit conducted by a team of experts put together by the Hindustan Times painted a different picture.
It showed that the city is just halfway there in its struggle to get ready for the rains. The panel of experts — their areas of expertise ranged from civic infrastructure to administration and environment — visited 14 nullahs and flood-prone spots. They examined and rated the work done to ensure that the surrounding areas don’t flood.
Even though major nullahs may not overflow, thanks to the BMC’s desilting efforts, your neighbourhood may still flood. The panelists felt that this year will be no better than the previous ones, though the flooding might be less intense.
One of the panelists, the BMC’s first ever chief engineer of the Storm Water Drains Department, Nandkumar Salvi, said: “Work on major nullahs is satisfactory. However, unless storm water drains are cleaned, flooding will occur.”
Additional Municipal Commissioner Aseem Gupta admitted that the problem of localised flooding would continue to haunt the city. “We never claimed that flooding would be disappear. Localised flooding will be a problem and, hence, we have installed dewatering pumps at various locations,” he said.
At several spots, the experts found the work unsatisfactory. For instance, two pairs of box drains at the Dharavi T-junction were choked with silt and garbage, though the major nullah across the road had been properly desilted.
The box drains connect the storm water drains in parts of Dharavi to the Mithi river. Their choking would result in heavy flooding, the panelists said.
“These drains haven’t been touched. It looks like no official has bothered to examine them,” said panelist and Congress corporator Dharmesh Vyas.
Apart from Vyas and Salvi, the expert panel comprised former deputy municipal commissioner (environment) PR Sangilkar, former IIT-ian and Mithi clean-up activist Janak Daftari, environmentalist and citizen activist Rishi Aggarwal and senior corporators Dharmesh Vyas (Congress) and Pravin Chheda (Bharatiya Janata Party).