You may have to put up with your monsoon nightmare — flooded roads, wading through knee-deep water, disruption in daily routines or pothole-ridden roads — this year too. The city is not adequately prepared to face the monsoon, concludes an audit carried out by experts and citizen activists invited by the Hindustan Times to test the city’s monsoon preparedness.
The panel comprising two former engineers with the civic body and two citizen activists visited nine nullahs (storm water drains) and six roads at different locations in the city. They rated the monsoon preparedness work an abysmal 5.1 out of 10. The panel found the efforts to prevent the flooding of the Mithi River, that affects several parts of the city during heavy rains, inadequate. The desilting of nullahs is not complete even with the monsoon barely a week away. Floating material as well as garbage was found in the drains at several places. Relatively, the roads were found in a better condition though there is no guarantee that they won’t develop potholes with the first few spells of rains, the panel opined.
The panel comprised D K Pathak, a retired engineer from the storm water drains department of the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC), GD Patil, retired engineer from BMC’s roads and bridges departments as well as James John and Nikhil Desai, coordinators from a citizen group, Action For Good Governance Networking in India (AGNI).
Following the 2005 deluge, the civic body claimed that the Mithi River widening and cleaning work would be its top priority. However, even after the witnessing the havoc it caused during the 2005 floods in the city, it has shown a lackadaisical attitude towards the very first step - desilting and maintaining it. The Mithi River stretch in the Bandra Kurla Complex (BKC) where the HT panel visited was not cleaned thoroughly with the presence of garbage and floating material covering the entire stretch. The civic body had earlier claimed it completed 90% of the desilting work.
During the last monsoon too, the level of Mithi River was racing towards the danger mark during the heavy rains, creating panic among residents. The reason is just not shoddy work by contractors, but the whole concept of desilting as a yearly pre-monsoon exercise and the slow progress in overhauling the storm water drain network, opined the panelists.
The incomplete work was seen at almost all the nine nullahs that HT visited on June 3. Five out of nine nullahs that the panelists visited could not even reach an average of five out of a possible 10.
“The concept to clean drains throughout the year and not just ahead of monsoon has been floated to BMC, but they have refused it on the ground of expense. The least the BMC can do is clean the drains thoroughly and maintain it later,” said James John.
The panel reckoned that the roads are in a way better state as compared to nullahs and will be motorable before monsoon arrives.