Despite the civic body spending Rs 65 crore on desilting nullahs and removing 3.97 lakh cubic mt of silt till May 31, your neighbourhood might still go under this monsoon.
That’s because despite the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) focusing on cleaning major nullahs, the rest of the drainage system was ignored. Major nullahs might not flood, but smaller drains might still overflow.
An audit conducted by a team of experts put together by the Hindustan Times to gauge the city’s monsoon preparedness predicted that localised flooding would trouble Mumbai.
Panelist Rishi Aggarwal, an environmentalist, said: “The flooding that we experience in our localties has almost nothing to do with the desilting of major nullahs. Most times our neighbourhoods flood even in moderate rain due to local reasons that the BMC failed to address.”
One example of this is the Rasraj nullah at Vile Parle (W). The experts found that the BMC had satisfactorily desilted and widened the nullah that carries water away from flood-prone Vile Parle (W) and Juhu. “However, there is a smaller connecting drain, which carries water from parts of Juhu to this nullah, that has collapsed near the entry. As a result, areas near Mithibai College will flood despite Rasraj nullah being cleaned well,” said panelist and retired deputy municipal commissioner Prakash Sanglikar.
The BMC initiated the Brihanmumbai Storm water Drains (BRIMSTOWAD) project to overhaul major drains and raise their carrying capacity. But officials rue the fact that smaller drains are not covered by the project. “Also, smaller drains are often not as efficiently cleaned because that is left to the local ward office,” said a Storm Water Drains Department official on condition of anonymity as he is not authorised to speak to the media.
Panelist and Congress corporator Dharmesh Vyas said the only option is to include smaller drains in Brimstowad. “The BMC should expand the scope of Brimstowad,” he said.
Additional Municipal Commissioner Aseem Gupta accepted that controlling localised flooding was not completely possible. “Smaller drains get choked easily thanks to the dumping of debris and garbage in them. Also, they are more difficult to unclog,” he said,
Though Gupta said Vyas’ suggestion to include smaller drains in Brimstowad might not be financially viable, short-term solutions are being worked out. “Installing pumps that carry away floodwater into nearby major nullahs helped a lot last year,” said Gupta.