If you were wondering why Mumbai flooded on June 19, even after receiving much less rain compared to July 26, 2005, it is because the ruling Shiv Sena, in an attempt to earn brownie points, pressured the civic body into inaugurating two pumping stations that were not fully equipped to handle waterlogging.
Boasting of its promise of providing a flood-free monsoon, Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray inaugurated Love Grove and Cleveland pumping stations — built at a cost of Rs 208 crore — on June 17. According to sources, although the pumping stations were expected to pump out water into the sea, they didn’t have the much-needed grabbing system, which should have been fitted on the screen that allows water to enter the pumps, to prevent the entry of garbage and floating material coming from nullahs.
Consequently, the pumps proved to be of no use after the flooding in central and south central Mumbai in June, as the water didn’t enter the pumps because the screen was clogged by waste.
Attacking the administration and the Sena for inaugurating the pumping stations in haste, Samajwadi Party corporator Rais Shaikh, said, “Instead of offering relief, the ill-equipped pumping stations proved to be the cause of flooding on June 19 . The inauguration was to mislead citizens. To cover up, the civic body alleged pebbles got stuck in the flood gates at Cleveland pumping station.”
Laxman Vhatkar, chief engineer, storm drain department, said, “It was not the major cause of floods. We plan to install grabbing systems at both the pumping stations soon.”
The ruling Sena, however, blamed the administration for not informing them about the pending work.
“The administration claimed the work on the pumping stations was complete. We were not aware of any pending work and will ask civic officials about it,” said Trushna Vishwasasrao, Sena leader in the BMC.
On visiting the two pumping stations, HT found the floating material was being removed manually at Cleveland pumping station. The work on the discharge channel, which is used to pump water into the sea, too, was incomplete. Temporary arrangements such as tying plastic drums along the screen were made to block the floating material at Love Grove.
“Grabbing system is important, especially during the high tide, when there is a possibility of the pumps getting choked up. The plan to install the grabbing machine is ready. We will inspect the site soon. Some work is pending, which may take around two months,” said a senior official.
Mumbai marooned: Click here for pictures