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Nowhere for the water to go

mumbai Updated: Aug 30, 2011 00:41 IST
Kunal Purohit
Kunal Purohit
Hindustan Times
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Another rainy day saw yet another day of floods and chaos in the city. As Mumbaiites woke up to heavy showers and flooded building compounds and streets, the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation’s lack of preparedness for the monsoon was more than evident on Monday.

Across the city, many areas got severely flooded, with low-lying areas and those adjoining the Mithi river, which overflowed, the worst affected.

The pre-monsoon audit by Hindustan Times’ panel of experts had warned that despite the BMC spending around Rs 65 crore, the city was likely to flood.

The bad news is that might happen again. The reason: Experts said that despite years of spending taxpayers’ money and effort, the city is nowhere close to being prepared for the monsoon as its drains have still not been upgraded. Also, a major part of the drainage system has been left out of the multi-crore upgradation project.

The city’s drainage system was originally designed to handle rainfall of up to 25mm per hour. Under the much-delayed Brihanmumbai Storm Water Drains project (BRIMSTOWAD), the drains were to be upgraded to handle up to 50mm of rainfall in an hour. However, this project is far from over. “And the most vital part of the drainage system - the roadside local drains - are not included in this project,” said a civic official. “For BRIMSTOWAD to make a change in our monsoon preparedness, the complete drainage system will have to be upgraded. Piecemeal implementation of such a project hardly makes sense.”

Prakash Sanglikar, retired deputy municipal commissioner and one of the HT audit panelists, slammed the BMC for being in a “prolonged state of inactivity”. “Though the BMC spends on major nullahs, there is no attention being paid to drains connecting local nullahs to major nullahs,” he said.

Civic officials attribute the delay to bureaucratic hurdles. The BMC’s storm water drain (SWD) department maintains all the major nullahs and minor nullahs, whereas other drains such as the local, roadside drains and culverts are maintained by the respective ward offices.

LS Vhatkar, chief engineer, SWD, admitted this was one of the problems. “Officials at the ward level don’t have the expertise that SWD officials do. So there is a vast difference between the cleaning and maintenance of major and minor nullahs and other drains. Even today, flooding was because of issues with local drains,” he said.