Devendra Fadnavis announces high-level probe into wall collapse incident
Chief minister Devendra Fadnavis (CM) on Tuesday announced a high-level probe into the wall collapse incident at Kurar, where 22 people were killed. The CM said strict action would be taken against officials responsible for not only the wall collapse, but also for other such accidents and the delayed cleaning of stormwater drains in the city.
Fadnavis was replying to a debate on the monsoon situation in Mumbai and other parts of the state after the Opposition raised the issue in both houses of the state legislature. Opposition members on Tuesday slammed the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) for alleged irregularities in the nullah-cleaning work and delay in construction of pumping stations.
Nationalist Congress Party’s (NCP) legislative party leader, Ajit Pawar, demanded dissolving BMC and conducting a high-level probe into its governance “as it has failed to avert flooding”. “If the need arises, please appoint an administrator for civic body by dissolving it,” he said. Pawar’s colleague, Jitendra Awhad, said corruption in BMC was responsible for waterlogging as nullah-cleaning is done by “safeguarding interest of contractors”.
Fadnavis, in his reply, said, apart from 2005, the rainfall on Monday and Tuesday was the second highest in the city in a 24-hour period since 1974. He said the widening and deepening of nullahs and rivers is jeopardised by illegal hutments on the banks, and it is time BMC and the state took strict action against these hutments. “In some areas along Mithi River, there are three-four-storey high hutments on the banks, endangering lives of citizens in the vicinity.
When we try to take action against them, the elected representatives plead to stop. I have directed civic officials to take immediate action against them and rehabilitate them to a safer building constructed by MMRDA,” the CM said.
He also said BMC has not given contracts to the blacklisted contractors. Responding to NCP leader Jayant Patil’s allegation that some developers have encroached upon open spaces in the city, the CM said action will be taken against responsible BMC officials.
Fadnavis also said he has directed BMC officials to immediately shift citizens living in hilly areas, prone to landslides. In the wake of the forecast for heavy rainfall in the next three days, BMC has been directed to take due precautions, he said.
Fadnavis also said that under the Brimstowad project, five of the seven pumping stations proposed have been completed. “Work on the pumping stations at Mahul and Mogra have begun and is expected to be completed soon. We have acquired salt pan land owned by the Centre by invoking special powers under the Disaster Management Act. Once the construction is over, waterlogging will reduce to a great extent,” he said.
Micro-tunnelling on Western Railway has reduced waterlogging on the network, he said, adding a similar project is being implemented on Central Railway. In the legislative council, Opposition leader Dhananjay Munde blasted both Shiv Sena and the Bharatiya Janata Party. “The mayor says there is no waterlogging. He should have gone to Matoshree [Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray’s residence] and seen the water in front of that house.”
The CM also visited BMC’s disaster management control room, to take stock of the situation in Mumbai. He inspected traffic and waterlogging and directed officials on where focus is needed.