Question marks over Mumbai’s pre-monsoon works

Several areas see waterlogging following heavy rain triggered by Cyclone Tauktae

Waterlogging in several areas of Mumbai following heavy showers caused by Cyclone Tauktae has yet again raised doubts over the civic body’s preparedness to tackle the upcoming monsoon. With the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation’s (BMC) workforce largely deployed for COVID-19 relief measures, pre-monsoon works of the civic body have come under scrutiny.

On April 16, Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray had chaired a review meeting of top BMC officials and directions had been issued to complete all pre-monsoon works before May 31.

Pre-monsoon works by municipal corporations were included in the essential category by the State government in its first order of lockdown issued on April 13. “As a result, all those works continued unabated,” an official from the civic body said.

Now despite the preparedness, flooding at several parts of Mumbai and non-functioning of water pumps have led to a show cause notice being issued to three BMC engineers.

Samajwadi Party MLA and councillor Rais Sheikh has written to Municipal Commissioner Iqbal Singh Chahal highlighting that despite its claims of being prepared several water pumps did not work and the storm water drain department failed to prevent flooding.

In 2020, Mumbai received 64% more rainfall than the average. According to civic officials, the work on cleaning nullahs and clearing of silt had begun in October 2020 as the administrative procedures for issuing tenders were completed earlier.

An official from the BMC’s storm water drain department told The Hindu that 406 spots within Mumbai had been identified for possible waterlogging and work had begun on them.

In 2020, a total of 5,04,125 metric tonnes of silt were removed from nullahs and rivers within the city and in 2021, the civic body has projected to increase it by 35%. “We have achieved more than 80% of the target,” the official said.

He further said that underground water tanks at Hindmata and Gandhi Market, the two spots which are infamous for flooding every year, were being constructed which would store water from these low-lying areas and later it would be released in the sea. “The civic body has also rented 470 pumps to drain out water,” the official said.

However, there was waterlogging in some areas of Mumbai city such as Mahalaxmi Junction, Hindmata, Nana Chowk, Sakkar Panchayat Chowk, Dadar TT, SIES College at Sion, Bindumadhav Junction at Worli, Pathhe Bapurao Road at Grant Road, Chandan Street at Masjid Bunder Road, Chirabajar, Modi Street at Colaba, JJ Road Junction, and BDD Chawl at Worli. In suburbs, Andheri subway, Oshiwara bus depot, Sainath subway, Lokhandwala lane at Andheri, Malvani lane number 5, Yoginagar at Borivali, and Yashwant Nagar at Vakola saw water stagnation.

Bharatiya Janata Party MLA Ashish Shelar said many parts in the city witnessed waterlogging. “The ruling party and contractors cannot escape from their responsibility as despite claims of pre-monsoon works, the situation was not good after Cyclone Tauktae,” he said.

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