HT Monsoon audit: Six months, ₹440 crore later, Mumbai is still not fully rain-ready
Mumbai city news: With just a week to go for the rains, roadworks were unfinished and nullahs chokedmumbai Updated: Jun 09, 2017 13:35 IST
In October last year, the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) started planning to make Mumbai’s roads ready for the monsoon.
In December, they began work on some of these roads they identified as most prone to flooding. In April, the BMC started cleaning storm water drains, or nullahs, to increase their capacity. But six months and Rs440 crore later, nullahs are still clogged with filth, work on arterial roads is patchy and incomplete and the city is underprepared to deal with the rain.
With just a week to go for the rains to hit the city, HT found various unfinished roadworks and filthy, choked nullahs.
The BMC said that as of June 7, it had repaired 60.61%, or 217 of the 358 roads it wanted to fix. It claimed to have cleaned 94.31% of all nullahs. And the BMC appears to be happy with the status of its pre-monsoon work. Sanjay Darade, the chief engineer, roads department, said, “Most of the work is nearly done. We will resume after the rains, in October.”
“Achieving 100% desilting is impossible as people keep throwing garbage into drains even as we clean them. On most major nullahs, the work has been completed, but people see floating garbage and feel there is more to be done,” said Mangesh Satamkar, a Shiv Sena corporator and standing committee member. He added: “Even in road works, it was unfortunate that quarries supplying material were shut for a while. Otherwise, it could have been completed on time.”
In our annual monsoon audit, HT’s panel of experts identified nullahs and roads where work was still incomplete and that could cause trouble once the monsoon began. Other experts and activists agreed the BMC’s work was not up to the mark. Nikhil Desai, an activist from Matunga, said, “HT has pointed out all areas where work is incomplete. It shows the administration’s apathy and highlights how elected representatives are not interested in solving these problems.”
Political parties such as the BJP, Congress, Samajwadi Party and the Maharashtra Navnirman Sena also conducted their own surveys. SP corporator Rais Shaikh said, “HT has presented a realistic picture. This could just be the worst monsoon Mumbai will see, as desilting work is lagging behind and road work is half done.” Congress’ Sanjay Nirupam said Mumbaiites will face a tough time, while MNS corporator Dilip Lande, who visited the Mithi river on Thursday, said the BMC had not done enough to clean it. The BMC’s own data showed only 45% desilting (as of June 4) on the western stretch of Mithi was done.
Mulund corporator Manoj Kotak said, “To complete roadworks, the BMC is compromising on the quality. The BMC need to overhaul the way it approaches pre-monsoon work.”
HT’s experts said the administration should work round the year to prepare Mumbai for the monsoon. Desai said desilting was serving no purpose, as every year more shanties come up near nullahs. Their waste worsens the already clogged drains. “There will be zero progress unless they are removed,” he said.