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Designed to flood: Why Virar and Vasai remain water-logged

Urban planners blame poor planning, neglect of geographical and environmental factors as twin cities struggle with water-logging, power cuts, water shortage more than 24 hour after heavy rain.

mumbai Updated: Jul 12, 2018 11:08 IST
Mumbai monsoon,Vasai Virar,water-logging
Water-logging on railway tracks between Vasai and Nallasopara on Wednesday, July 11. (Vijayanand Gupta/HT Photo)

As Vasai and Virar areas saw flooding after heavy rainfall on Tuesday, urban planners pointed fingers at poor planning coupled with ignoring geographical and environmental factors while construction is carried out in the area.

As the real estate prices in the Maximum City skyrocketed, suburbs adjoining Mumbai saw a spike in unchecked and poorly monitored construction activities for residential and commercial spaces in the last decade. The effect of the same is now visible in these cities, feel the experts.

Thousands of residents of the areas found themselves cut off from Mumbai where most of them travel to work via the suburban rail network. The tracks were under water throwing the suburban rail services out of order.

Planners say little importance is given to environmental factors while preparing plans for development of the city. Sulakshana Mahajan, senior urban planner, said that “rampant development” is one of the key factors for such flooding. “The drainage channels that take water from higher level to the sea level get blocked due to excessive construction and civic authorities do not clear them,” she said. She pointed out, “Generally in development plan, such channels are not marked, or even topography is not considered, which becomes a major issue in all cases; not just Vasai-Virar area.”

Hitendra Thakur, MLA from Vasai and chief of Bahujan Vikas Aghadi that runs the Vasai-Virar Municipal Corporation, said that development alone should not be held responsible for the flooding. He argued that geographical factors, high tide too played a role for the scale of waterlogging on Tuesday. Jaidev Hemmady (37), a writer, who has been living in Virar since 1990s, said there is wide scale construction in Virar west. “As there were many open plots, many residential and commercial projects have come up in Virar west. Mostly, parts of Virar west were flooded on Tuesday,” he said.

Pankaj Joshi, executive director of Mumbai-based Urban Design Research Institute (UDRI) too echoed Mahajan’s view and said that planning is not done keeping the topography and environmental positions in mind. “Other than Mumbai, very little heed is paid to environmental position —which is a low-lying area, which is flood-prone area, which is the watershed, etc.” Thakur said the topography of the area is such that rain water flows from east to west.

TWIN CITIES REEL UNDER POWER CUTS AND WATER SHORTAGE

If all this was not bad enough, residents of Vasai and Virar are also braving longer power cuts and water shortage. In some areas of Vasai, the power cut has lasted for more than 36 hours.

“For 36 hours without power, we have been facing a harrowing time. On Tuesday, I thought the Arabian Sea waters had entered our streets and homes,” said Nabendu Bhowmick, 39, a resident of Vrindavan Apartment, Evershine City, Vasai (East).

Power supply was disconnected early on Tuesday after water entered the electrical substation at Vasai, affecting 16 feeders. “Worse, there is acute shortage of drinking water,” said Bhowmick, who works as a deputy superintendent with the salt department, Bhayandar. He said he had not reported for work since Monday as there was no water for bathing.

He lives with his wife, Tista, and a 14-year-old son, who had to skip school for similar reasons.

We don’t know what’s been happening as the TV has been rendered useless without power. We used an inverter, but it conked off after three hours,” said Tista.

Mumbai’s neighbouring towns Virar, Virar and Nallasopara had received heavy rain for three days on the trot starting from Sunday. In some areas, rain water has not receded.

“We were relieved that it did not rain in the afternoon today,” said Bhowmick. The power cut has hit senior citizens hard as they were forced to use staircase.

Pandurang Patil, chief public relations officer, MSEDCL, said the power supply was restored partially in phases by Wednesday evening. “We had to shut power as a precaution since water entered the Vasai substation,” he said.

With no water and power, Bhowmick is uncertain as when he will report for work.

Meanwhile, streets in Vasai and Virar wore a deserted look with shops and ATMs shut. Some people have termed three days of torrential rains worse that the 2005 deluge. An increase in vegetable prices has aggravated people’s troubles.

First Published: Jul 12, 2018 11:07 IST