Nearly seven years after the July 2005 deluge stalled operations at the Mumbai airport for more than 30 hours, the city airport will be better equipped to deal with flooding this monsoon.
Airport officials said construction of underground channels beneath the main runway would be complete by May 20. These channels will ensure easy movement of the Mithi river, which passes through a culvert running beneath the tarmac. The culvert has been widened to 47 metres, although the width recommended was 60 metres. The flooding of the Mithi river during the deluge on July 26, 2005, had not only grounded flight movement at the airport. but also marooned many neighbourhoods such as Krantinagar and Kurla.
"Two additional channels 12 metres wide and 450 metres long were added to the existing underground drainage channel to eliminate any chance of flooding on the airfield and surrounding areas," said a spokesperson for Mumbai International Airport Limited (MIAL) spokesperson.
The project had missed its July 2011 deadline after airport workers hit a rocky surface while digging into the tunnel located towards the end of the runway, which is used mainly for take-offs.
Subsequently, controlled dynamite blasts were conducted in the area to widen the culvert. At least three feasibility studies were conducted by various agencies such M/s Jacob Enterprise and the Indian Institute of Technology — Bombay over a span of five years.
Airport officials added that the Shraddhanand nullah, which is often responsible for flooding at one end of the runway, has been de-silted as part of monsoon preparedness exercise.
"Until now, even a moderate downpour resulted in flooding of the western end of the runway owing to blockage in the nullah. Therefore, the nullah was cleaned on priority," said an airport official requesting anonymity Airport officials added that pre-monsoon friction test would soon be conducted on the runway to assess an aircraft's braking capacity when the airstrip is wet.