Working towards its aim of minimising the amount of garbage clogging the major and minor nullahs, the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) will start the process of covering the nullahs with polycarbonate sheets, to prevent people from tossing garbage in the stormwater drains of the city. The plan will begin with two major nullahs, one each in the eastern and western suburbs, on an experimental basis and after a trial period of one year, it may be extended to other major nullahs in the city.
Municipal Commissioner Ajoy Mehta had announced the plan last year after majority of the contents removed from nullahs during de-silting was found to be garbage in plastic bags. Civic officials from the stormwater drains department pointed out that in most cases, the garbage is thrown in the nullahs by slum residents living along the wall of nullahs.
Recently appointed chief engineer of SWD department Vidyadhar Khandkar said the trial will be taken up at two major nullahs — the Pancholia nullah in Kandivali and the Nanepada nullah in Mulund. “We will take up the Pancholia nullah first and will cover 110 metres of the nullah with a polycarbonate sheet. We will have an adjustible opening every 10 metres, which will be opened for cleaning and will otherwise remain shut…,” said Khandkar. The tender for the Pancholia nullah is expected to cost around Rs 80 lakh.
While the tendering process for the 5.5-metre-wide Pancholia nullah is underway and the tender is expected to be floated in another 15 days, the process for the 5-metre-wide Nanepada nullah is expected to take a bit longer. “The retaining wall for the Nanepada nullah has to be constructed before the covering sheet can be installed on a 60-metre stretch. We will begin with the Pancholia nullah and will take up Nanepada nullah after the wall has been constructed,” he said.
Civic officials said the nullahs were selected by a planning cell after conducting a review last year of five major nullahs, mostly the ones with adjoining slums. The civic chief has given his approval for the test drive and the contractor, who will be appointed, will be responsible for installing the sheet as well as maintaining it for the entire four months of the monsoon season. “At the end of monsoon, floating garbage removed from the nullah will be measured to determine the effectiveness of the sheets. We will then decide on how to implement it on other nullahs on a mass scale,” said Khandkar.
Apart from the Mithi river, the BMC is currently maintaining the major nullahs in the city that measure around 260 km. The minor nullahs, which are 465.13-km long, along with the 2,049-km long roadside nullahs are maintained by ward offices and are cleaned out manually by NGO labourers on an annual basis.