386 waterlogging spots, 291 landslide-prone spots in Mumbai, finds BMC mapping
A total of 386 waterlogging spots, 74 vulnerable settlements and 291 landslide-prone areas have been identified in the city, as part of the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation’s (BMC) project to map natural disaster-prone zones. As the ward-wise mapping for each of the 24 administrative wards is now complete, the civic body has integrated this data with its annual Flood Preparedness Guidelines 2021 and started to act upon them.
Mapped as part of this initiative are vulnerable settlements due to their proximity to the sea, to a landslide-prone area, to a high-tension wire, those settled along the creeks in Mumbai, or at foothills of hillocks, and those with proximity to BMC reservoirs; flooding-prone spots in each ward, including chronic flooding-prone spots, localised flooding-prone spots, temporary ones due to ongoing metro construction or other development works.
Of the 386 waterlogging spots, 178 have already been tackled by the civic body and 164 have work going on to mitigate flooding, as per its survey. Eleven spots have not been tackled by the civic body, stated the survey.
While landslide-prone areas have been categorised into high-, medium- and low-risk spots, with estimates of the affected population in each area, flooding-prone spots have been categorised on the basis of spots which have already been tackled, spots where work is presently going on, and those that are under Railways’, Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority’s or Mumbai Metro Rail Corporation Ltd’s (MMRCL) jurisdiction.
The BMC has also identified emergency assembly points in each ward such as municipal school buildings, along with how many people can be accommodated in each building. There are a total of 130 emergency assembly points across 24 wards. These have been identified keeping in mind the affected population in case of the above-mentioned emergencies.
The maximum number of landslide-prone spots – 152 – is in the S ward corresponding to Bhandup; the area has 10 emergency assembly points. It is followed by N ward in Ghatkopar, which has 32 spots and 8 emergency assembly points. L ward, corresponding to Kurla, has 11 emergency assembly spots, due to proximity to settlements to Mithi River, which swells almost every monsoon, prompting the BMC ward authorities to arrange for temporary evacuation of 400-600 residents. The information has been uploaded on the BMC’s website and is accessible to citizens.
Suresh Kakani, additional municipal commissioner who is in charge of the civic disaster management department, said, “It is the need of the hour to mitigate casualty and property damage due to natural disasters. Creating awareness among residents is the most impactful way to do this. The BMC began ward-wise mapping of disaster-prone areas in the city. The crucial phase of the project is education of citizens, sharing knowledge with elected representatives and then giving them tools to deal with such disasters in an emergency. That is why this information is online.”
The BMC has already begun workshops with citizens, local leaders and elected representatives at its Parel-based City Disaster Management Institute. However, these were halted due to the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic, Kakani said.
For over a decade, the BMC has been preparing Flood Preparedness Guidelines every year. It is a handbook of ward-wise details of disasters, with standard operating procedure outlining the roles and responsibilities of each of the first responding agencies in case of disasters. A senior civic official said, “We update the Flood Preparedness Guidelines handbook every year, adding components to it, elaborating roles of first responders as our SOP gets finetuned.”
In a mid-monsoon review meeting in July, the BMC also decided to appoint a consultant to survey landslide-prone sites and suggest corrective measures. Kakani said, “As per an earlier survey conducted by the Geographical Survey of India (GSI), landslide-prone spots across Mumbai have been categorised into light, moderate and critical. There are 20 such critical spots that BMC has decided to focus on for immediate corrective measures. These spots are mostly in the eastern suburbs, in S (Bhandup) and L (Kurla) wards.”