Rasraj nullah at Vile Parle was found clogged with floating garbage.(Praful Gangurde/HT)
Rasraj nullah at Vile Parle was found clogged with floating garbage.(Praful Gangurde/HT)

HT Monsoon Audit: Flooding in Mumbai’s western suburbs is just a shower away

In the second of the three-part series, the HT panel reviews desilting of three storm water drains in the western suburbs, and finds the work done is shoddy. But a major stretch of Mithi river is in much better state than during the previous monsoons.
By Sagar Pillai and Geetanjali Gurlhosur | Hindustan Times, Mumbai
UPDATED ON JUN 08, 2018 02:20 PM IST

The verdict is loud and clear. Residents of the western suburbs may have to brace for another spell of waterlogging this monsoon. Reason: the Mumbai civic body’s slapdash desilting and cleaning of three major stormwater drains at Bandra (East), Vile Parle (West) and Milan subway.

The findings are part of HT’s monsoon audit by a four-member panel on June 2. Three of these experts examined the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation’s (BMC) desilting and cleaning of Rasraj nullah at Vile Parle, Gobar nullah at Milan subway and Chamdawadi nullah in Bandra.They invariably found the nullahs clogged, silt heaped on the banks and sewage released into them as well as floating garbage.

On an average, the three nullahs scored 5.5 out of 10.

Launching its three-part monsoon audit series on Thursday, HT had published the panel’s review on four nullahs in the eastern suburbs. The average score for the seven nullahs and two stretches of the Mithi river is 6.3 out of 10 marks.

Shame old

The experts pointed out that the nullahs are as dirty as they were previous years.

Rasraj nullah was a mixed bag. Although a portion of the nullah was clean, floating garbage dumped by encroachers may prove inimical to anti-flooding measures, said the panel.

“Encroachers along Rasraj nullah are evidently dumping organic waste in it. To solve this, it needs to be cleaned at regular intervals,” said Vidya Vaidya, a member of the HT panel and Bandra-based citizen activist.

The experts also concluded that Bandra, Vile Parle and Milan subway are likely to witness waterlogging this monsoon, considering the condition of Chamdawadi and Gober nullahs. They rated Chamdawadi as one of the worst nullahs in the western suburbs.

Girish Patil, another member of the panel and former BMC engineer, said, “Parts of Chamdawadi nullah are still encroached and a major portion has excessive floating material and sewage. This will clog the drain and cause major flooding in Bandra and Khar.”

For Gobar nullah, the picture is not rosy either. The experts feared another cycle of waterlogging at Milan subway and its surrounding areas.

“Gobar nullah is partially cleaned and floating material is still visible. The nullah will flood,” predicted Patil.

Amid the unflattering review of its pre-monsoon work, the BMC has been maintaining that it had completed desilting and cleaning of all drains.

AFTER YEARS OF BUNGLING, BMC FINALLY CLEANS MITHI RIVER

The river that flows through the heart of Mumbai — Mithi — has been a cause for concern every year during the monsoon. But, this year, HT’s monsoon audit has found that a major stretch of the river in the western suburbs is in a better state than during previous monsoons. The HT panel gave Mithi a satisfactory 7 out of 10, after it found desilted waters, wider channels, encroachment-free banks and a retaining wall.

In the last two monsoon audits by HT, the river scored a 3 for two stretches at Bandra-Kurla Junction and at Kranti Nagar owing to encroachments and water hyacinth or floating shrubs.

Additional municipal commissioner Vijay Singhal said desilting of the river was completed before May 31.

The panel visited two stretches of the river —BKC junction at Bandra (East) and Kranti Nagar at Vile Parle (East) — on June 2. Inspecting the BKC junction stretch, the experts said the river had been desilted properly and encroachments on both sides removed; although some of them could not be razed as they are under litigation. Nandkumar Salvi, former engineer of the stormwater department, said, “A visible bed suggests that silting has been done properly.” The BMC has built a high retaining wall near the stretch where the river passes under the airport runway at Vile Parle and built a new service road there. “The service road is well maintained and drainage lines on it connect to the river,” said Girish Patil, former civic engineer.

On July 26, 2005, the river overflowed after 994 mm of rainfall over a period of 24 hours. This left the city submerged, highlighting the BMC failure.

Citizens again feared the worst on June 19 last year, when sporadic rain brought the water level in Mithi to 2,500 mm, close to its danger make of 2,700 mm.

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