Mumbai cleans river, drains to combat rain assault

Updated on May 23, 2007 02:49 PM IST
Civic authorities in the city have cleaned the Mithi river as well as two arterial drains in a bid to curb the regular monsoon flooding.
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Reuters | ByAbhishek Takle, Mumbai

Civic authorities in India's financial capital have dredged up a vital river and cleaned two arterial drainage systems gearing up for monsoon flooding, officials said.

In 2005, two days of heavy rains killed hundreds of people in and around Mumbai and closed down the island city for almost a week. The downpour flooded the city because its natural and civic drainage were choked.

Last year again rains flooded homes and disrupted road and rail transport, with many parts of the city submerged under 2 feet of water.

More than a third of Mumbai's 18.3 million people live in slums clustered around arterial drainage systems.

A Municipal Corporation of Greater Mumbai official said the Mithi river had been dredged, de-silted and widened for rainwater to recede quickly.

The Mithi river, a thin sliver of water that cuts through the middle of the city and easily mistaken for a nullah, is the city's primary natural drainage system.

"Work is still going on, but we are hoping that this year the problem would not be as severe," said D S Palshikar, chief engineer of storm water drains.

The work on building a concrete embankment and access roads along the Mithi, vital to containing flooding, can begin only after this year's monsoon, he added.

Two clogged drainage systems in the low-lying eastern suburbs were being widened as part of the municipal stormwater drainage project and civic workers are installing 110 pumps to drain out storm water from flood-prone areas.

Mumbai's antiquated sewerage system and choked drains struggle to cope with the rains every year, exposing the pathetic infrastructure and dismal emergency response in India's richest city.

Millions of dollars have been sanctioned to upgrade Mumbai's infrastructure, but experts say the problem of flooding is difficult to overcome with most of the city's wetlands, the natural drainage system, being built over.

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