Pipeline burst kills two children: Mumbai civic body yet to remove 7,000 shanties
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Pipeline burst kills two children: Mumbai civic body yet to remove 7,000 shanties

Mumbai city news: The BMC has demolished just 8,000 hutments along pipelines since the HC directive in 2009.

mumbai Updated: Jul 10, 2017 00:13 IST
Geetanjali Gurlhosur
Geetanjali Gurlhosur
Hindustan Times
Mumbai city news,pipeline burst,BMC
Two children of a family drowned after a pipeline burst at a slum in Bandra (East) on Friday.(HT)

A day after two children of a family drowned following a pipeline burst at a slum in Bandra (East), the issue of illegal slums along water pipelines is back in the news.

Acting on a public interest litigation over theft, leakage and contamination of water, and safety of residents, the Bombay high court in 2009 asked the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation to remove all illegal hutments within a 10-meter radius of pipelines. It also asked the BMC to create a buffer zone. At the time, there were more than 15,000 shanties along theses pipelines, of which, more than 8,000 have been torn down in the past one year. The BMC plans to raze the rest 7,000 shanties by December, according to data accessed by Hindustan Times.

“The threat of a terrorist attack is even greater now. Terrorists could poison water. The BMC has taken eight years to demolish a few thousands of hutments. They will take another eight years to demolish the rest,” said Bhagvanji Rayani of Janhit Manch, which filed the PIL in 2006.

Three major pipelines in the city carry water from Tansa, Vaitarana and Bhatsa lakes in Thane. BMC officials said that they had been removing hutments, but resident reconstructed them within next few days. Some of the worst affected areas where shanties have been sprouting are Behrampada in Bandra (East), Marol-Maroshi in Andheri (East), Ghatkopar and Mulund.

“With thousands of slum dwellers residing in close proximity to water pipelines, water theft is a major worry. It not only leads to water leakage but also contamination,” said a civic official from hydraulic department.

“The BMC has been carrying out the demolition work in most of the wards. We have already finished work in six wards. We are yet to raze hutments in Bandra (East), Kurla and Matunga-Dadar,” said Ranjit Dhakne, deputy municipal commissioner (encroachment removal).

The BMC has started demolishing hutments at Ghatkopar, Mulund, Chembur, Andheri (East) and Santacruz, and rehabilitating eligible families to Mahul.

To deter slum dwellers’ return after demolition, the BMC plans to construct retaining walls along water pipelines.

The hutments at Bandra (East), where the two children died on Friday, were served notice in 2015 and the civic body was supposed to demolish them after the monsoon.

A civic official said the major hurdle in clearing slums was opposition by occupants. He gave the example of Behrampada where nearly 32,000 families turned violent during a demolition drive.

First Published: Jul 09, 2017 00:35 IST