July 23, 2021 4:30:22 am
The landslide at New Bharat Nagar in Chembur that killed 19 people and injured five others during the wee hours of Sunday could have been triggered by blocked drain pipes fitted in boundary wall of Bhabha Atomic Research Center (BARC) and retaining wall constructed by Maharashtra Housing Area Development Authority (MHADA) to prevent landslides, officials said.
According to officials from the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC), who inspected the collapse site, the drains being blocked by residents to prevent inflow of excess water into the colony could be one of the main reasons for accumulation of rainwater on the other side of wall, which eventually led to the landslide.
Around 12.30am on Sunday night, amid heavy rainfall, a landslide had damaged at least five houses in the area.
“The blocked drain pipes led to water accumulation that first loosened the soil, which triggered the collapse of a tree as well as a boundary wall simultaneously. The landslide followed thereafter and buried the houses situated close to these walls,” said an official from the BMC, who had been involved in disaster management since day 1 of the incident but did not wish to be named. Officials said multiple drain pipes were situated on both the BARC boundary wall and retaining wall.
A senior official from the BMC has compared the Chembur incident with the one that happened in Kurar Village, Malad, where 31 people had died after a wall collapse and landslide in 2019. The BMC’s investigation to find out the cause of the wall collapse had revealed that many slum dwellers had blocked the drain pipes from the wall causing water accumulation and eventual wall collapse.
An official from M-east ward said that usually these retaining walls have small pipes fitted in them to help drain out the rainwater. “But, in many other landslide prone areas it has been found that the people living on hillside abutting these retaining walls block drains to prevent water from entering their houses,” he said.
Even on the day of the collapse, a resident had told The Indian Express that he had spotted a woman resident blocking a drain pipe to prevent water from entering her house.
Another resident Nitin Ghasing, who claimed his house suffered over 90 per cent damage due to the landslide, said the drain under the boundary wall of BARC was blocked. “The boundary wall had a drain pipe and another opening to allow unhindered flow of water during monsoon. However, it was blocked,” Ghasing, who managed to escape with his mother right after the landslide, said.
An official from BMC’s Disaster Management Cell said, “The basic idea for installing these pipes is to allow unrestricted flow of rainwater. If it is blocked, the water thus accumulated puts pressure on the walls as well as the soil. This results in weakening of the wall.”
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