With monsoon around the corner, the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) is preparing to ensure that storm water drains do not clog this season. Assuring residents that work towards cleaning nullahs will be completed before the rains arrive, Mayor Vishwanath Mahadeshwar has said that if nullah contractors fail to complete the work on time, they will be prosecuted.
Every year, BMC begins starts cleaning the nullahs by May. However, this year, it has started the process in April.
Mahadeshwar said on Thursday that the storm water drain department has completed over 55 per cent of nullah cleaning and desilting work. “The nullahs are being cleaned by BMC-appointed contractors… if found uncleaned and clogged during monsoon, they will be prosecuted,” he added.
Mumbai has 600-km network of nullahs, out of which, 26 km are cleaned by Bobcat machines (equipment used to pick up and clear silt and debris from drains). Another 484 km of drains are cleaned with machines and by contractors with the help of manual labourers. However, there has been no attempt to clean the remaining 90 km of drains. “These box drains are deeper and wider and require advanced technology like mechanical or robotic arms, as human interference is risky. It can be a life threatening situation if labourers get exposed to toxic gas, if any, inside these nullahs,” said an official.
Meanwhile, even before monsoon hits the city, the authorities seem to have begun blaming each other in anticipation of waterlogging in the city. In what manifests the stand off between the Shiv Sena and the BJP, last week, the Mayor had openly expressed his fear that Mumbai will face waterlogging and flooding due to ongoing construction of three Metro projects undertaken by the state government bodies.
“…We have found problems at spots where Metro work is in progress. These areas will lead to flooding. Hence, not BMC, but MMRDA and MMRCL should be blamed for flooding,” he had said.
When contacted, Dilip Kawathkar, Mumbai Metropo-litan Region Development Authority (MMRDA) spokesperson, said: “There will be no flooding in the city due to Metro construction work. All debris on Metro sites will be cleared by May 31. We have also completed 60 per cent of desilting activity on eastern and western express highways and will complete the rest before the monsoon.”
Ashwini Bhide, Managing Director of Mumbai Metro Rail Corporation (MMRC) said: “MMRC is executing an essential public transport project. We are working in close coordination with MCGM (Municipal Corporation of Greater Mumbai) and are committed that no inconvenience is caused to residents due to our work during monsoon. We would like to highlight that all our construction sites are professionally managed and precautions are taken well in advance to ensure residents’ safety.”
Earlier this week, during an inspection by BMC officials, who were accompanied the Mayor, it was found that the cleaning of several nullahs are yet to be completed. These included nullahs at MTNL Bridge over Mithi river at Bandra Kurla Complex, Laxmi Baugh nullah in Ghatkopar, Usha Nagar nullah at Bhandup, Bombay Oxygen nullah, Mankhurd nullah and Deonar nullah.