Adding fresh fire to the ongoing squabble between the civic body and the Mumbai Metropolitan Regional Development Authority (MMRDA) over desilting work of the six-kilometre stretch of the Mithi River, the civic body has refused to undertake the work this year unless the planning authority agrees to fund it.
Voicing their protest against the proposal to fund the desilting work of the stretch that was previously under the purview of the MMRDA, the Shiv Sena- BJP led committee claimed that further decisions would be taken only after the planning authority gave reasons for passing on the work to them in writing.
“The scope of the MMRDA is not limited to infrastructure planning and development alone. Why is it that they agreed to undertake the desilting work in the first place if they knew that they would not be able to continue it?” said Dilip Patel, leader of BJP in the civic body.
Echoing Patel’s statement, standing committee chairperson Rahul Shewale said: “We will write to the chief minister asking for clear demarcation of roles for the MMRDA and the BMC. We will hold back the proposal unless MMRDA officials explain their stand and are willing to incur the cost.”
As per proposals finalised by the administrative wing, the BMC will have to shell out Rs11.38 crore to desilting a 4.23-km stretch. Another set of annual contracts worth Rs26.31 crore to desilt the river at Tel Channel in island city and at the stretch near Dharavi bridge to Prem Nagar were also proposed.
The Opposition, however, supported the MMRDA’s stand. “Immediately after the 2005 floods in the city, the BMC didn’t have the essential facilities and equipment to undertake desilting work for the entire stretch of the river. Hence, the MMRDA stepped in to provide assistance,” said Congress corporator Pravin Chheda. “Now that we have the necessary equipment, undertaking the work before the onset of monsoon should not be a problem.”