The Shiv Sena, which has run the BMC for two decades, has been the target of heavy criticism following Friday’s rain-induced paralysis, not least from the BJP, its ostensible partner in the Maharashtra government.
Following Friday’s deluge, Mumbai BJP chief Ashish Shelar has demanded an inquiry into the “shoddy” work on de-silting nullahs and said the state government would order its own inquiry if BMC failed to. Shelar and other BJP leaders, eager to distance their party from the Shiv Sena, claim that they had raised concerns about de-silting during pre-monsoon visits to various nullahs.
Shelar said BJP corporators had pointed out that the BMC had no way to measure the amount of silt removed by contractors, and wondered whether the civic body had simply taken contractors at their word.
“BJP has been raising concerns over nullah de-silting. We had said that the work was not satisfactory. There needs to be an inquiry into why the city was flooded last Friday. If the BMC fails initiate one, the state government will do so,” Shelar said.
The tussle between the two parties was evident after officials from both visited nullahs separately before the monsoon. After these visits, the Shiv Sena claimed that 99% of de-silting work had been completed and said there wouldn’t be any major flooding this year.
Even now, it defends this claim, saying things could have been much worse. Yashodhar Phanse, Shiv Sena leader and BMC standing committee chairman, said, “About 20% of the total rain expected for the season fell in just 24 hours. If the work had not been done, the situation could have been even worse. Because the pumping stations were in place and nullahs had been cleaned, the city suffered no major losses.”
The BMC, meanwhile, has been trying to find the reasons for Friday’s shutdown. On Monday, additional municipal commissioner SVR Srinivas, responsible for roads and storm water drains, called a meeting of 24 ward officers and ordered them to submit a detailed report on why the city came to a standstill on Friday.
A civic official, who did not wish to be named, said, “The ward officers have to submit reports with details of rainfall in their areas, why roadside drains were choked, and other such factors.”