The efforts of the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) will ensure a hassle-free monsoon this year, said civic chief Ajoy Mehta.
Responding to the concerns raised by HT’s expert panel in its audit on the city’s monsoon preparedness, Mehta said, “We have made fundamental changes to the manner in which the desilting work was carried out. In case of roads, too, contractors were asked to fix the patches at the earliest. The number of potholes will be fewer this year.”
The HT’s panel, which surveyed the work at nine nullahs (stormwater drains) and six roads across the city rated it better than last year’s.
The civic body also plans to deploy additional staff at spots prone to waterlogging. “The first few spells bring in a lot of trash that needs to be cleared to avoid water-logging. We will ensure co-ordination between those handling the pumps and pumping stations. We have made a booklet with the names and contact numbers of people handling the pumps,” Mehta said.
This year, according to Mehta, the BMC started its pre-monsoon preparations in December 2015, much earlier than the usual March, to look at problems pertaining to desilting, encroachments around the nullahs, and widening and increasing the carrying capacity of the nullahs.
Insiders feel the unearthing of the two scams -- in the stormwater drains and roads department – has resulted in better monsoon works this time. In 2015, the commissioner had ordered an inquiry into the functioning of the stormwater drains department, after two days of incessant rains brought the city to a standstill. Soon, another scam showing the nexus between contractors and civic officials in the roads department came to light.
“There has also been a paradigm shift in the assessment of works. The contractors were earlier paid on the basis of the volume of the silt cleared, so they could get away without removing the floating material from the nullah. Now we are paying them on the weight of the silt removed, so actual desilting is being carried out,” Mehta said.
He said the BMC’s system to keep a check on contractors cleaning the nullahs is foolproof. The civic body is mulling a campaign to create awareness to keep the nullahs clean.
“A drain should not be used as a dustbin. We find beds, furniture, bottles and all sorts of waste in it. We are thinking of a campaign on the lines of Clean Mumbai to create awareness,” he said.
Mehta said negligence will be dealt with strongly. “Any kind of negligence on part of the officials will be dealt with firmly. The government has set standards that we will follow,” he said.