Rain washes BMC claims

The second day of showers Monday crippled Mumbai in more ways than one,exposing gross unpreparedness of BMC’s disaster management cell.

Written by Express News Service | Published: June 11, 2013 3:27 am

The second day of showers Monday crippled Mumbai in more ways than one,exposing gross unpreparedness of BMC’s disaster management cell. Despite spending over Rs 200 crore to gear up for monsoon,de-watering pumps failed at 61 spots. As many as 75 incidents of trees falling,eight wall collapses and several short circuits have been reported so far this monsoon.

Municipal commissioner Sitaram Kunte said,“Many areas in our disaster management need improvement. The city neither experienced heavy showers nor high tides; these circumstances are man-made and a result of negligence. We are holding an inquiry and will fix responsibility on the officials and contractors concerned,” he said.

Kunte,however,said citizens may have to live with waterlogging. “Given Mumbai’s geographical location,citizens must be cautious. The city is only 1 metre above the sea level and naturally prone to waterlogging,” he said.

Activist Anandini Thakoor,chairman of the H-west Federation,said various parts of Bandra and Khar remained flooded through the day as de-watering pumps were not working. “BMC’s disaster management plan is only on paper. No action was taken till early evening. The water finally receded on its own. The pumping station is not working. We have informed BMC of this repeatedly,” Thakoor said.

Rajkumar Sharma,an activist from Chembur,said,“I contacted BMC for cleaning drains several times,but no action was taken. Earlier,at least the officers were humble and accepted the problems. Now,they are rude.”

Waterlogging was reported at 35 places in the western suburbs,20 in the eastern suburbs and six in the island city. These included low-lying areas such as Hindmata and Parel TT junction in the island city,Malad subway,Andheri subway,and Sakinaka in the western suburbs,and P L Lokhande Marg and RCF Circle in the eastern suburbs.

Flooding at certains areas in Byculla took BMC by surprise. “We did not expect waterlogging at E S Pathanwala Marg and an area near Rani Baug,” said Kunte.

During a visit to severely waterlogged Hindmata Junction,Kunte,additional commissioner Aseem Gupta,who is in-charge of storm water drains (SWD) department,and SWD chief engineer L S Vhatkar,found two agencies in charge of clearing drains had failed to carry out the necessary work. “Valves of the drains at many places had not even been turned on,” said Kunte.

Citizens were not able to access the civic pothole-tracking website,www.voiceofcitizen.com. Activist James John,coordinator of citizens’ group AGNI,said he had sent numerous reminders to BMC requesting them to fill up potholes before monsoon. “Clearly,nothing has been done,” said John. On May 31,the civic standing committee month approved a Rs 59-crore contract for fixing potholes during monsoon.

In the last two days,over 75 complaints of trees falling were registered with the disaster management cell. BMC had earlier claimed that over 18,000 trees had been trimmed ahead of monsoon.

Wall collapses were reported at Vile Parle (east),Bhandup (west),Ghatkopar (west),Andheri (east),Deonar and Chembur on Monday. A wall collapse in Bhandup killed two on Saturday. In the second incident near Nirmal Chawl,eight women,five men and four children were rescued.

The civic body is said to have issued notices to 959 dilapidated structures across the city in May,asking residents to vacate these buildings. Some residents,however,claimed they received these notices only a few days ago.

Municipal commissioner blames contractors,civic officials

BMC commissioner Sitaram Kunte Monday blamed civic contractors and his own men for negligence,which led to severe flooding in central Mumbai.

Flooding in major areas was a ‘man-made’ disaster,Kunte said,referring to severe waterlogging in areas between Hindmata in Dadar and Britannia Outfall on Reay Road. “This is caused due to the negligence of contractors and officials who have failed to complete the work on stormwater drains. The work to remove barriers at five points on the stretch from Hindmata to Britannia Outfall pumping station was expected to be completed before monsoon,” said Kunte.

Three major roads on the stretch from Hindmata to Reay road — Dadaji Konde Marg near Byculla Zoo,Patanwala Road and Dattaram Lad Marg,which typically never see flooding — were waterlogged Monday.

“Severe action will be taken against officials and contractors responsible for flooding at these spots,” he said.

Since Sunday,Santacruz recorded around 240 mm of rainfall while Colaba registered 148.4 mm. On Monday,the island city recorded 53.71 mm of rainfall while western and eastern suburbs recorded 34.58 mm and 35.19 mm,respectively.

mumbai.newsline@expressindia.com

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