Blame game over Mumbai’s waterlogging even before monsoon arrives

Pandurang Mhaske
Monday, 21 May 2018

Shiv Sena Mayor attacks CM-led MMRDA as deadline for pre-monsoon work nears, says ‘haphazard’ Metro work will cause floods

MUMBAI: A bitter blame game has started between the Shiv Sena-led Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) and the BJP government-led Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority (MMRDA) over who will be responsible for waterlogging which will happen during the upcoming monsoon season in Mumbai. 

Such a blame game starts every year between the municipal corporation, Mumbai Port Trust (MBPT), Railways and other agencies. But this year the blame game has started even before the rains arrive.

Shiv Sena leader and Mayor of Mumbai Vishwanath Mahadeshwar said a day ago that if there are floods in Mumbai this year, the State government will be answerable and not the BMC. Mahadeshwar levelled this allegation while visiting various spots in the western suburbs, where the civic body has been doing its annual pre-monsoon drain-cleaning work. 

Mahadeshwar’s allegations came in the backdrop of Metro construction work blocking several arterial roads across the city. “If Mumbai gets flooded, it will be only because of the Metro work is going on haphazardly in the city,” he said. 

Becoming alert after the mayor’s allegations, MMRDA decided to launch a counter attack. The agency clarified saying the authority will close all ongoing work prior to monsoon, indirectly indicating that they will not be responsible if floods happen in Mumbai. 

Ashwini Bhide, Managing Director, Mumbai Metro Rail Corporation (MMRC), said that the BMC and MMRDA had a joint meeting last week, where the MMRDA agreed to follow instructions of the BMC related to digging work.

“We are working in close coordination with the BMC. We assure Mumbaikars that they won’t have to face any inconvenience due to the Metro work during monsoon,” Bhide told Sakal Times. 

However, in Mumbai, there is a high possibility of flooding during this monsoon as the Metro work is going on. Many roads have been dug up for resurfacing and others are dug up for construction of drains. Except for Metro work, all other works are carried out by the BMC. Even though all pre-monsoon works should be completed by May 31, only 50 per cent of desilting work has been completed. 

“We had told all the contractors to complete the work before the monsoon begins, else action will be taken against them,” claimed Mahadeshwar. Currently, construction work for three Metro lines — Metro2A (between Dahisar and DN Nagar), Metro 3 (Colaba-Bandra-Seepz) and Metro 7 (Dahisar East to Andheri East) — is underway in the city.

This year, the BMC has identified 17 spots across the city, where flooding is likely because of ongoing civil, railway and metro works. When contacted, Mahadeshwar said the MMRDA did not obtain permission from the civic body before breaking the Storm Water Drains (SWD) and sewer lines for the metro construction in many parts of the city. “They have broken some sewage and drain line and no repairs have been made. This will lead to water logging in the monsoon,” he said. 

Bhide, however claimed there wasn’t any breaking of drain or sewage lines. “The MMRDA will rebuild them if it happened at any place,” she said. To avoid waterlogging SWD are being corrected at sites like casting yard at JVLR. At Santacruz, MMRC has cleaned, desilted and diverted SWDs. At Bandra Kurla Complex, MMRC brought their concerns to the notice of BMC about the incorrect gradients of existing SWDs, which has created waterlogging since a decade. MMRC is taking precautionary steps for the safety and ease of localities by deploying pumps in that area and a 3m x 2m box drain is being constructed beyond the edge of the station which will be completed by June 1st week, MMRC clarified in their statement. 

Mahadeshwar is seen targeting the State government agency MMRDA as per Shiv Sena’s political agenda. But the fact still remains that there are many roads that are dug up and cannot be filled in the next 14 days. But the mayor is still optimistic and said that BMC’s works will be done before monsoon. “All contractors are instructed to complete their work before monsoon. If any one fails to do it, we will take penal action against them,” said Mahadeshwar.

The BMC also released a list of high risk days during monsoon. Mumbaikars will have to watch out for June 7, July 7, August 19 and 20, and September 17, 18 and 19 as these are seven days during the monsoon when Mumbaikars have a higher chance of encountering waterlogging woes and risk of accidents.

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