14 years on, Mumbai still awaits stronger drainage system
Even as the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) blamed unprecedented rainfall for Monday’s disaster, incomplete drainage works was one of the major reasons behind the chaos.
On Monday, the western and the eastern suburbs received a total average rainfall of 329mm and 309mm, respectively. The infamous Brimstowad project, envisaged after the 2005 deluge and aimed at overhauling the city’s 19th century drains, is still inching towards completion, which, experts say, should be completed on a war footing to prevent waterlogging year after year. Once the Brimstowad project is completed, the carrying capacity of the nullahs will increase from withstanding 25mm rainfall an hour to 50mm rain an hour.
The cost of Brimstowad was estimated at ₹1,200 crore in 2006, which has now crossed over ₹4,000 crore. Of the 58 works to widen the nullahs and augment the drainage planned over two phases, 27 have been completed, 28 are still in progress. The BMC is yet to call for tenders for three other works. There are seven ongoing works in the island city, 12 in the eastern suburbs and nine in the western suburbs. Civic officials have blamed the delay on encroachment along the nullahs. Also, of the eight pumping stations planned under the project, the BMC is yet to procure land for two stations – Mahul and Mogra. BMC officials have said unless Mahul pumping station is functional, preventing flooding in Sion, Kurla and Matunga is not possible. Citizens had to wade through waist-deep water in these areas even on Monday.
A senior civic official from the stormwater drains department said, “The land for Mogra pumping station is under litigation owing to a dispute between two owners. The court asked us to pay the value of the land – ₹42 crore – which will be given to the owner after the dispute is resolved. As for Mahul, the land is in possession of the salt commissioner and we are in talks with higher authorities to procure it.”
The officer also said after procuring the land, the BMC will have to undertake the process of survey and soil investigation, which will take a long time. In the interim, however, the BMC has not been able to implement any solution in the last decade.
AV Shenoy, a member of the Mumbai Vikas Samiti, said, “Completion of the project is the only permanent solution.”