How Mumbai rain flushed 12 years of civic body’s work, Rs 2,007 crore down the drain
Mumbai’s civic body spent 2,007 crore on plan to overhaul storm water drains, but has not met more than half its targetsUpdated: Aug 31, 2017 10:15 IST
Even as the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) blames unprecedented rainfall for bringing the city to a standstill on Tuesday, data analysed by HT reveals that incomplete work and a lack of planning contributed to the chaos.
Till February 2016, the BMC spent Rs2,007 crore on the ambitious Brimstowad project, aimed at overhauling the storm water drains (SWD) network in the city. The cost of the project increased from Rs1,200 crore — estimated in 2006 — to Rs4,700 crore as of today.
However, less than half the targets listed under the project in 2007 have been completed.
Of the 58 works to augment drainage, widen nullahs, construct new drains and pumping stations, the BMC has completed only 38. A senior civic official, who did not wish to be identified, said the status of the works have remained unchanged since the past two years as there are close 12,000 shanties along these nullahs.
HT, in its annual monsoon audit, reported that citizens throw garbage in the nullahs, which results in them getting choked during heavy rains and a high tides.
Of the eight pumping stations that are supposed to flush out flood water, the Mogra pumping station is locked in a land dispute. Plans to acquire the land on which the Mahul pumping station is built, from the city collector, are still in progress. Over the past 10 years, the BMC has not thought of any other solutions to prevent Mumbai from grinding to a halt.
Documents accessed by HT show that the BMC had spent close to Rs260 crore of the Rs616 crore that it had planned to spend on the implementation of the Brimstowad plan in the 1980s-90s.
Works under the Brimstowad project include widening the nullahs to increase their carrying capacity from 25mm an hour to 50mm.
However, even though only 27 locations received more than 50mm of rain an hour, knee-deep inundation was common across the city. This, even though 229 de-watering pumps on the roads, 27 pumping stations and 110 pumps from sewer stations were at work.
“Any project needs to be completed before it can showcase results. In areas that receive more than 50mm rainfall, there need to be holding ponds that floodwater can be channelled into,” said Kapil Gupta, professor, department of civic engineering, Indian Institute of Bombay.
After the 2005 deluge, the fact-finding committee’s report suggested holding ponds as a measure. However, only two sites in Mumbai have holding ponds, he said.
On Wednesday, BMC officials said the major difference between the 2005 deluge and this one was the five pumping stations that drained 7,000 million litres from the streets.
“The corporation has not been spending money quietly. We spent money to build pumping stations that helped bring down water levels faster. On Tuesday, the city received an unprecedented amount of rain, a phenomena that occurs maybe once in 10 years,” said civic chief Ajoy Mehta.
SN Pathankar, former city engineer, BMC said that despite the pumping stations being hard at work, floodwater needed to reach the station, which could be achieved only if storm water drains had a good carrying capacity. “We need a 40% to 60% improvement the big nullah’s carrying capacity,” he said.
A civic official said that between the Elphsintone and Parel stations, couches were found dumped in culverts meant to carry rainwater, which resulted in the water receding slowly.