Though the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) claims that the city is ready for the monsoon, you should prepare yourself to fold up your pants and walk through slush, or worse, wade through floodwater.
The Hindustan Times’ three-part monsoon audit last week revealed that so far only 56% of the total pre-monsoon work was complete. Following HT report, the civic body sent senior officers of the storm water drains (SWD) department along with HT’s expert panel to assess the situation and take corrective steps.
After re-visiting the flood-prone spots and nullahs with a team of senior civic officials on June 10, the Hindustan Times’ three-member team comprising the civic body’s first-ever chief engineer of the storm water drains department Nandkumar Salvi, retired deputy municipal commissioner PR Sanglikar and an ex-IITian and Mithi river activist Janak Daftari expressed satisfaction at the work done, but said localised flooding would continue to trouble Mumbaiites this monsoon.
Their worst fears came true on Saturday when the incessant rains brought the city to a standstill — with most low-lying areas reporting water-logging, leading to traffic snarls. According to the official information, the civic body received over 80 complaints of waterlogging from various localities, including Hindmata, Dadar, Parel, Lalbaug, Nana Chowk, Matunga, Bandra, Milan subway, Andheri subway and highway, Sakinaka, Marol market. This, despite the fact that none of the city’s major nullahs, the desilting of which costs the city tens of crores each year, flooded during the day.
Emphasising the need for a systemic plan to tackle the problem of localised flooding, Salvi said on Friday, “Simply cleaning major drains will not help because the efficiency of the drains will be ensured only when the civic body starts focusing on and cleaning other minor drains along the roadside as well. If it is not done, the problem of localised flooding will continue to wreak havoc in the city.”
During their visit, panelists re-emphasised the importance of tackling localised flooding by improving the local drainage systems while officials from the SWD department blamed it on the lack of coordination among civic officials.
“The local ward office has to tackle these local drainage systems and ensure that they are clean. The SWD department also concentrates on major and minor nullahs,” said a senior civic official from the SWD department.
On Sunday, the western suburbs recorded 108.8mm of rainfall. The ongoing Metro construction work and heavy rain led to waterlogging along the Andheri-Kurla Road; the width of the road was reduced to half its size.
K-East assistant municipal commissioner V Shankarwar said, “The SWD runs through the middle of the road and its connections to the roadside drains had been broken, thanks to the digging for the ongoing Metro rail work. As a result, the flooding continued to happen since the drain connections had been broken and the floodwater couldn’t enter the nullah.”
Speaking to HT earlier, additional municipal commissioner Aseem Gupta had ruled out any long-term solution to localised flooding, citing it to be ‘financially unviable’. Another civic official, who visited the nullahs in the city, VM Golwalkar, deputy chief engineer, operations and maintenance (city), put the onus on the citizens. “At Dharavi, we have been cleaning the drains on a regular basis, but people continue to throw garbage into the drain, which makes it vulnerable.”
As the civic body dithers over what is to be done next, brace yourselves for another year of flooded roads.