Mumbai mayor calls for meeting to review desilting of city waterways
Taking cognisance of media reports highlighting increased siltation and mangrove growth in Mumbai’s waterways, which experts say will pose a major flood risk during the monsoon, mayor Kishori Pednekar on Monday called for a review meeting with Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) officials on the stormwater drains.
The mayor said she will discuss preliminary results from an ongoing study by Pune-based NGO Srushti Conservation Foundation, which estimated that the Mumbai Metropolitan Region (MMR) has lost about 107 sqkm of waterways and agricultural land along its coast since 1990. The study is being led by Dr Deepak Apte, former director of the Bombay Natural History Society (BNHS). Due to the increased rate of siltation over the past 30 years, Apte explained, waterways and agricultural lands along the city’s coastline have now turned into mudflats or mangrove forests, leading to shrinking and shallowing of the city’s creeks.
About 47sqkm area has been lost in the Mumbai-Thane creek itself, which in the future may pose a threat to the area’s avian biodiversity (including flamingos). The coasts in Mumbai, Thane, Navi Mumbai and Uran have all been affected by this process, HT had reported on June 5.
Pednekar told HT over the phone: “I will be sitting down with chief engineers of the civic departments concerned to review whether desilting work in the eastern and western suburbs will be enough to prevent flooding in the city. We will also discuss ways in which the Srushti Conservation Foundation’s suggestions for desilting creeks can be implemented.”
“Mumbai would have already been under water had we not taken appropriate steps to manage siltation in Mithi River. Ahead of this monsoon, we will take all steps to ensure de-clogging of areas, but we cannot say that Mumbai will never flood,” Pednekar said at a press conference on June 6.
P Velrasu, additional municipal commissioner and head of the storm water drains department, did not respond to calls and messages seeking comment on Monday.