Malabar Hill reservoir: BMC seeks intervention of IIT experts from another state | Mumbai news - Hindustan Times
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Malabar Hill reservoir: BMC seeks intervention of IIT experts from another state

By, Mumbai
Mar 20, 2024 07:14 AM IST

BMC seeks IIT intervention for Malabar Hill reservoir fate due to conflicting expert reports. Reconstruction or repair decision pending.

After receiving contrasting reports on Malabar Hill reservoir from two teams of experts, the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) is now seeking intervention of an Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) from another state.

Mumbai, India - Dec. 7, 2023: View of (Kappa) empty section of the Tank, Malabar Hill Reservior, which was internally inspected by an expert committee consisting of IIT Powai professors, local experts citizens and BMC official, to review the current proposal and to suggest the appropriate course of action , at Malabar hill, in Mumbai, India, on Thursday, December 7, 2023. (Photo by Anshuman Poyrekar/ Hindustan Times) (Hindustan Times)
Mumbai, India - Dec. 7, 2023: View of (Kappa) empty section of the Tank, Malabar Hill Reservior, which was internally inspected by an expert committee consisting of IIT Powai professors, local experts citizens and BMC official, to review the current proposal and to suggest the appropriate course of action , at Malabar hill, in Mumbai, India, on Thursday, December 7, 2023. (Photo by Anshuman Poyrekar/ Hindustan Times) (Hindustan Times)

“I am going to write to IIT Madras or Delhi or Kanpur and send them both the reports. Either of them will be asked to give the last word and decide the fate of the reservoir,” a senior civic official said. “I am not a hydraulics person, and therefore cannot read the hydraulic engineering reports and decide what is right and wrong.”

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Emphasising the need for an experts’ opinion, the official said, “One team of experts, one of whom is an architect, is saying it can be repaired. After repairs, if there is a reservoir burst five to 10 years from now, and south Mumbai goes out of water for six months, people will lodge a police complaint against me. Hence, I will seek intervention from IIT experts, who are not from Mumbai, to give me the final report on whether to reconstruct or repair the reservoir,” the official said.

In the assessments conducted on the condition of the reservoir, located under the iconic Hanging Gardens, two teams of experts submitted their final reports on March 5.

The first group, comprising experts from IIT-Bombay - professors R S Jangid, V Jothiprakash and Dasaka Murty, and BMC engineer C H Kandalkar, proposed an initial cleaning phase followed by a series of tests. These tests will play a decisive role in determining whether reconstruction or repair is necessary for the 135-year-old reservoir.

Through immediate short-term measures, IIT experts said, the reservoir can mitigate potential risks and optimise its operational efficiency. The second step recommended is construction of an alternative tank.

A pivotal aspect of enhancing the reservoir’s capacity involves the construction of a new tank with a usable capacity of 52.44 million liters per day. This alternative tank will be strategically aligned with the existing hydraulic head of the reservoir to ensure uninterrupted gravity flow water supply to the populace. The experts have suggested emptying interconnected tanks during construction of the alternative tank.

In contrast, the second team representing citizens – IIT-Bombay professor Alok Goyal, structural engineers Dr VV Nori and Alpa Sheth, and architect Rahul Kadri – have not expressed the need for reconstruction, citing a projected reservoir lifespan of 15 years.

However, they have highlighted concerns regarding the comprehensiveness of visual inspections. Instead, they too recommend the implementation of a contingency plan to address potential issues that may arise and so a standby tank of suitable capacity is required that avoids uprooting old trees. They have also said that the old building near the pump house needs to be replaced/retrofitted as decided by the BMC.

Meanwhile, the Hanging Gardens Environment Protection Group and Save Mumbai Racecourse Group have arranged on March 20 an open house meeting on the issue with Rahul Narwekar, speaker of Maharashtra assembly, and former corporator Makarand Narwekar.

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