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No way to detect weak city roads

Experts said that the island city has leaking and rotten century-old sewer lines laid during the British era. Therefore the roads are prone to collapses due to cavities created by soil erosion. Amrita Kadam & Bhavika Jain report.

mumbai Updated: Sep 12, 2009 01:07 IST
Amrita Kadam & Bhavika Jain

Next time you drive around the island city, beware. There are a few stretches where the road may suddenly cave-in, for the civic body has no mechanism in place to detect seepage and erosion beneath the ground that leads to cave-ins.

Experts said that the island city has leaking and rotten century-old sewer lines laid during the British era. Therefore the roads are prone to collapses due to cavities created by soil erosion.

On Wednesday night, a Peddar Road stretch opposite to Prabhu Kunj — singer Lata Mangeshkar’s residence — collapsed. This was the third such incident since July 2008. It is not just Peddar Road but roads that run parallel to the sea--Marine Drive, Mahalaxmi, and Worli are equally vulnerable to such cave-ins.

“Peddar Road cave-in was an accident that could not be predicted,” said Additional Municipal Commissioner, R.A. Rajeev. The civic body completed repair work at Peddar Road and traffic was restored by Friday evening.

Experts said that there are three prime reasons for the cave-ins leaking and corroded water mains, seeping sewer lines and century old dilapidated storm water drains.

They added that the civic body should conduct a ‘conditional survey’ immediately to find out the condition of the drainage system so that it can prevent such accidents. However, plans to undertake a conditional survey have not taken off yet.
“We will do the re-tendering process to hire consultants after the code of conduct is over. The work is expected to be completed by the March 2011,” said Rajeev.

According to Prakash Sanglikar, Former Deputy Municipal Commissioner there are several reports and guidelines on how underground leakages can be detected but they haven’t been implemented yet.

“Regular maintenance and inspection can help avoid such instances but these things are not being done on priority basis,” said Sanglikar.

Rebuilding the decaying sewage lines which is part of the BRIMSTOWAD (Brihanmumbai Storm Water Drainage) project is one solution to this problem.

“By 2011 these old storm water drains will be changed as a part of the Brimstoward project,” said Additional Municipal Commissioner, RA Rajeev.