A two-year-old dispute between the municipal corporation and the Airports Authority of India (AAI) seems to have been finally resolved.
Chief Minister Ashok Chavan on Tuesday directed the Mumbai International Airport Limited (MIAL) to start widening the Mithi river culvert that passes below the runway in October.
But sources said areas, such as Kurla, Kalina and Bail Bazaar, and the runway will still get flooded during heavy rain because the work will be completed by 2013.
“The work will start after monsoon and will continue for at least the next two monsoons,” said Chandrakant Watve, chief engineer, Storm Water Drain department, BMC.
Chavan on Tuesday reviewed the completed works during the sixth meeting of the Mithi River Development and Conservation Authority at Mantralaya.
Chavan said the state has spent Rs 600 crore on the development and conservation of Mithi river and work worth Rs 1,000 crore is still pending.
He asked the officials to build a boundary wall along the 18-km river after conducting a site study because constructing a wall near mangroves can cause flooding during heavy rain.
When the issue of widening the culvert under the runway was raised, AAI officials pointed out that they would have to stop activities at the airport and it would result in revenue loss.
“Widening of culvert will cost the MIAL Rs 150 crore. But we will incur losses worth Rs 80 crore if the runway remains closed,” said an AAI official, on condition of anonymity. The possibility of installing sluice gates on the culvert to control the water flow was also discussed.
“Since the Mithi development work does not fall under the Centre-funded JNNURM scheme, a separate proposal has been sent to the Centre. About 30 per cent of the total project cost will be borne by the Centre,” said Municipal Commissioner Swadheen Kshatriya.
On March 15, Professor Kapil Gupta of IIT-Bombay who was appointed by the BMC, had submitted his report about the culvert-widening plan. “The culvert is 27 metres wide and 4.1 metres high. The width should be increased by 20 metres to sustain rainfall of 100 mm in an hour,” the report had said.
The Chitale committee report of 2007 had said the river stretch near Krantinagar, Kurla, should be widened to 100 metres downstream and 40 metres upstream and the culvert under the main runway should be widened to 60 metres.
However, instead of 60 metres, the culvert under runway will be widened only up to 47 metres.
The BMC completed the widening of the river last year, but until the culvert is widened, flooding would continue in the area.
“The Mithi River Development Authority will be responsible if the area gets flooded this monsoon,” said Rahul Shewale, BMC standing committee chairman.
The 18-km river, which is a confluence of the water discharges of Powai and Vihar lakes, was mainly responsible for the 2005 deluge.