Following the inundation and waterlogging that occurred in several parts of the city on August 29, the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation’s stormwater drains department will now focus on the flood-prone subways that connect the eastern and western sides of the suburban railways, among the top suggestions drawn up by the disaster management department. The BMC has also renewed its efforts to acquire land for the Mahul and Mogra stormwater pumping stations, both long pending projects, and has recently obtained a nod from the Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion to begin soil testing for the Mahul pumping station. The Mahul pumping station is proposed on salt pan land, and the salt commissioner’s office is a subordinate associate office under the DIPP.
Civic officials from the SWD department said suggestions collected after the August 29 flood from ward-level officials and other departments had been classified into two categories, based on their urgency. The primary focus now is on six subways — Dahisar, Poisar, Andheri, Malad, Milan and Khar. Additional Municipal Commissioner Vijay Singhal said, “We have identified around 20 spots that are prone to inundation and we will finalise the list of measures to be taken to improve the drainage system of those areas. We may need to lay new stormwater pipelines at some places. We will take up the subways on priority.”
Citing the example of Andheri subway, Singhal said the BMC was considering a proposal of micro-tunneling and was in the process of discussing it with the Western Railway. “We are planning to lay a micro tunnel running below the railway tracks. There was a proposal sent to the Railways earlier but permission was denied. The Railways had suggested a longer route. We are now considering the same,” he said, adding that similar plans were being drafted for the remaining subways too. As per the tentative plan, the micro tunnel will connect the Andheri subway to the Mogra nullah. The tunnel will run beneath the railway tracks, under Bhardawadi Road in Amboli, and drain the water into Mogra nullah.
Following the heavy rains on August 29 and on September 20, many buses and other vehicles were left partially submerged in the subways, especially the ones in Malad and Andheri. Apart from subways, the BMC is also considering mini rainwater pumping stations at Dadar and Charni Road.
The Mogra and Mahul pumping stations are part of the Brihanmumbai Storm Water Disposal System Project (BRIMSTOWAD) that has been pending since the 1990s and was fast-tracked after the 2005 floods. Since 2006, however, only six of the eight pumping stations planned have been operationalised. While the project at Mogra is held up due to an ongoing legal dispute pending with the Bombay High Court between two parties who have laid claims to the land, the project at Mahul is planned on salt pan land and is still awaiting approvals before the land can be handed over.
In a bid to expedite the process of acquiring the land at Mogra, Municipal Commissioner Ajoy Mehta said the BMC would appeal to the Bombay High Court to deposit its cost in advance. “As the project is in public interest, we will make a request to the High Court to allow us to deposit the money and ask for handover of the land so that we can start work on the project. At the conclusion of the case, the money can then be given to the party based on the High Court’s orders,” said Mehta.
As for the Mahul project, Singhal said the issue was discussed at a meeting with the DIPP earlier this month. “We have received an in-principle nod to carry out soil testing for the project and we are expecting the formal approval in the coming week. Cabinet approval is needed before the land can be handed over to us and the issue will be taken up on high priority,” he said.