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BMC’s 2020 resolution: Better roads, no flooding

Civic body to push for staggered payment for road works; create silos for excess rainwater; construct waste-to-energy plant at Deonar
By Eeshanpriya M S and Mehul Thakkar, Mumbai
PUBLISHED ON DEC 31, 2019 12:43 AM IST

Year-round bad roads, water-logged streets and flooded railway tracks during monsoon, and overburdened garbage dumping sites are a few urban challenges Mumbai has been grappling with this past decade.

The tail-end of 2019 saw the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) announce paradigm-changing policies to solve these problems and 2020 is expected to be a challenging one year for BMC, as it puts its ambitious new plans to the test.

Municipal commissioner Praveen Pardeshi told Hindustan Times, “We are fundamentally changing how we perceive these problems, going to their root cause, and doing what needs to be done to resolve the issue. Our design-and-build policy for roads is one such example.”

Plan for roads

In October, a report from BMC’s vigilance department found 177 of 184 defect liability-period roads that were inspected, to be in bad condition. Meanwhile, in November, during its pothole challenge, about 1,700 potholes and bad patches were reported by citizens to BMC.

In a bid to reduce constant digging of roads, as part of its new design-and-build policy, BMC has now made it mandatory for contractors to design a road with a plan to shift the utilities under it to ducts on one side to avoid constant trenching during utility repair work.

“We noticed approximately 20% of Mumbai’s roads – mainly in rapidly developing areas – are constantly being worked on because they have utilities zig-zagging under them that need constant repair or relaying. The idea is to put all these utilities in one duct to one side of the road, which can be accessed by making a single shaft entry at one point, instead of digging up the entire road,” said a senior civic official.

To make contractors responsible for the roads they build, BMC planned staggered payments to contractors over 10 years, making it the liability of the contractor to fix a road damaged due to trenching during this time. However, this resulted in contractors bidding about 40% above BMC’s estimated cost for the project.

This led BMC to withhold some road work contracts and to postpone its decision to have staggered payment, resulting in 400 road works getting delayed.

Leader of the opposition in BMC, Ravi Raja, said, “The confusion and administration’s indecisiveness has led to delays in a lot of road work projects that BMC will now have to make up for.”

Rohit Shinkre, principal, Rachana Sansad Academy of Architecture, said that the civic body needs to first address the issue of corruption. “Bad roads are not due to bad planning or lack of technology, they are bad workmanship and corruption,” Shinkre said.

Plan to mitigate water logging

BMC has come up with one of the most ambitious infrastructure plans to mitigate water logging during monsoon. The civic body plans on constructing underground silos to hold rainwater, which otherwise floods the city. It will tie-up with the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) for technical assistance for the project.

These silos will be along the lines of underground water-holding tanks in the Japanese capital, Tokyo, and are likely to be located between Bhandup and Mulund.

BMC is simultaneously planning to divert the spillage from Tulsi and Vehar lakes, housed inside Sanjay Gandhi National Park (SGNP), to the Bhandup water treatment plant and Airoli creek via underground tunnels, so it does not overflow into Mithi river. Shinkre said, “It is possible to come up with less dramatic solutions. Even our existing stormwater drains are not augmented to full capacity.”

Plan for sustainable waste management

Mumbai has 3,367 bulk generators of waste, of which 1,671 do not process their waste at source. Of these, BMC is yet to prosecute 346 (20.7%).

Bulk generators are housing societies or restaurants, malls, and businesses that generate more than 100kg of waste a day, or are spread across more than 5,000 square metres. In 2017, BMC had issued a warning to bulk generators to process their waste in order to reduce the burden on the Deonar dumping ground.

BMC presently dumps approximately 1,700 metric tonnes (MT) of waste at Deonar, of the 7,000MT of waste it collects from the city.. Of this 7,000MT, 5,300MT is processed at Kanjurmarg, according to BMC figures.

In 2020, the amount of waste dumped at Deonar is expected to reduce by 1,200MT, if all goes according to BMC’s plan.

The civic body floated tenders for three modules, each for 600MT, as part of its plan to process 1,800MT waste at Deonar. Construction of one of the three waste-to-energy plants, with a capacity to process 600MT garbage, will begin mid-2020. BMC has received two bidders for the project and will finalise the contract by February 2020. It will also float tenders for the second plant in the first half of 2020.

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