New Delhi -°C
Today in New Delhi, India

Dec 08, 2019-Sunday



Select city

Metro cities - Delhi, Mumbai, Chennai, Kolkata

Other cities - Noida, Gurgaon, Bengaluru, Hyderabad, Bhopal , Chandigarh , Dehradun, Indore, Jaipur, Lucknow, Patna, Ranchi

Sunday, Dec 08, 2019

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.

mumbai Updated: Jun 08, 2018 14:20 IST
Sagar Pillai and Geetanjali Gurlhosur
Sagar Pillai and Geetanjali Gurlhosur
Hindustan Times
Rasraj nullah at Vile Parle was found clogged with floating garbage.
Rasraj nullah at Vile Parle was found clogged with floating garbage.(Praful Gangurde/HT)

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.


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.

HT has carried out a monsoon audit of the city’s seven major nullahs, two stretches of Mithi river and roads. Its four-member panel comprising two former civic engineers, an activist and a roads engineer rated the BMC’s pre-monsoon work. The average score was 6.3 out of 10. The audit was done on June 2. Here is the panel’s verdict on Mithi river and three nullahs in the western suburb:
WHY IT MATTERS: Various major and minor nullahs flow into the Mithi river. The Vakola nullah meets the river at the BKC junction. A rise in its water level leads to flooding in the western suburbs.
WHAT HT PANEL FOUND: The BKC junction stretch looked cleaner than it did the previous years. Desilting of most parts had been done properly, but silt and floating garbage could be seen in patches
EXPERTSPEAK: "We can see that encroachments have been removed. The retaining wall needs to be completed. Because of a tree at one corner, the wall has not been built," said N Salvi, expert
WHY IT MATTERS: This 11-km stretch passes through the low-lying areas of Kurla and Kalina and flows under the airport runway. If not cleaned, the highly populated areas near the airport will be marooned
WHAT HT PANEL FOUND: The river from the airport boundary to Kranti Nagar bridge had been widened from 25 metres to about 100 metres. The BMC had created an opening in the retaining wall for desilting
EXPERTSPEAK: "Even after cleaning, there is a lot of water hyacinth and floating trash. The BMC has cleaned the stretch in portions. 100% cleaning is not possible, but more efforts need to be taken," said Vidya Vaidya, activist
WHY IT MATTERS: Water from the western suburbs flows into Chamdawadi nullah, which passes through Kalanagar junction and releases water into Mithi. The BMC is working on a long-term project to widen culverts and desilt the drain, which passes under the railway tracks.
WHAT HT PANEL FOUND: A major part of the nullah without a retaining wall was encroached upon. The nullah was partially desilted, with waste visible on its surface at some places
EXPERTSPEAK: "Because of thriving encroachments on one side, untreated sewage and sludge are being discharged directly and constantly into the nullah. Besides, plastic and thermocol waste is lying around the nullah, which is a cause for concern," said Vidya Vaidya, activist
WHY IT MATTERS: This nullah flows from Vile Parle and connects to drains in Andheri and Juhu
WHAT HT PANEL FOUND: Part of the nullah had been properly desilted. However, solid waste was floating near a culvert and sewage was flowing into the nullah constantly from adjacent slum in Vile Parle (West)
EXPERTSPEAK: "Although Rasraj nullah has been desilted, floating material has to be removed," said Girish Patil, former civic engineer of roads department
WHY IT MATTERS: From Kotachiwadi, it runs along Milan subway, a link connecting SV Road to the Western Express Highway, and joins LIC nullah. The subway witnesses flooding every year. The authorities, however, are yet to come up with a permanent solution
WHAT HT PANEL FOUND: The narrow nullah was not adequately cleaned. It had substantial amount of garbage, thereby chocking it
EXPERTSPEAK: "Gobar nullah has been desilted. But if LIC nullah is not cleaned properly, flooding is inevitable at Gobar nullah," said Patil