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Saturday, June 12, 2021

89% desilting of major nullahs done, better prepared for monsoon: BMC

Some corporators say claims hollow, point to flooding after Tauktae

Written by Laxman Singh | Mumbai |
Updated: May 30, 2021 7:19:42 pm
Last September, torrential rain caused unprecedented flooding in various parts of Mumbai.

After unprecedented flooding in several parts of Mumbai last year, the BMC has said that it is better prepared for the monsoon this year. The civic body said it has completed 89 per cent of desilting work of major nullahs this year and expects to complete desilting across Mumbai by June 1.

Several corporators, however, alleged that the BMC’s claims of being prepared this monsoon are hollow, and that this was proved by the submergence of several spots after the recent rain due to cyclone Tauktae.

Last September, torrential rain caused unprecedented flooding in various parts of Mumbai. However, unlike in the past, this year the rains breached new frontiers with the emergence of new flooding spots.

The BMC, in order to avoid a repeat of last year, had decided to increase the target of removal of silt from nullahs, with the quantity being doubled for Mithi river and increased by 22 per cent for major nullahs.

While the target for silt quantity removal from Mithi was 1.4 lakh metric tonnes, it has now been increased to 2.74 lakh metric tonne. For major nullahs, last year it was 3.63 lakh metric tonnes but for 2021-22 it is 4.16 metric tonnes. Quantity for minor nullahs remains unchanged.

“When we remove more silt, the water-holding capacity of the nullah increases and the flow becomes faster. Last year, there were complaints that desilting was not done in many areas. When we did a review, it was found that only the target quantity of silt was removed. We have now decided to remove the additional quantity, which will ease the flow of rainwater,” said P Velrasu, Additional Municipal Commissioner who also heads the Storm Water Drain Department.

According to data available with the BMC, the 17.8-km Mithi River — one of the biggest reasons for flooding in the eastern and western suburbs — has been cleaned up to 73 per cent till May 28. The BMC has also claimed that desilting targets of major nullahs has been completed 100% while work on minor nullahs has been completed up to 70%.

In spite of this increase in the scope of work, Mumbai witnessed flooding in many areas in the aftermath of Cyclone Tauktae, with people claiming that it took hours for the water to recede from certain parts.

“Cleaning of minor nullah is lagging behind. If the desilting was up to the mark, how there was flooding during Tuaktae?” Samajwadi Party MLA and corporator from Byculla Rais Shaikh said.

Opposition leader Ravi Raja also slammed the civic body’s claims on cleaning work. “The figures of nullah given by the BMC are misleading. Desilting work has not been done properly. Every year there is flooding despite spending crores of public money being spent on cleaning work,” said Raja.

While its conventional methods on tackling the monsoon are under the scanner, the BMC is planning to deploy new technology and techniques to ensure flood mitigation. Alarmed at the frequent flooding in low-lying subways, the BMC has proposed a new technique to construct Subway Sumps. Sumps are indentations or pits where undesired water is collected before it enters the subway. This water is then directly pumped into nullahs through pumps.
The BMC also plans to do drone surveys of all major nullah cleaning work. From 405 flooding spots, this year the civic body has set a target of finishing 125 works. “While work on 54 spots is completed, works on 56 spots are nearing completion. Rest 15 flooding spot work progress is lagging behind,” said another official from the SWD department.

Of the total 368 road repair works planned for this year, 157 have been brought to safe stage so that it does not cause inconvenience traffic or is washed away.

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