THE ONGOING Metro construction is likely to create over two dozen flood-prone areas in the city, the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) has cautioned. Civic officials have claimed that their efforts to control flooding are going down the drain, as Metro work has allegedly choked drainage lines and “disturbed” the storm water drains at some areas. They have also alleged that after disturbing the design of the original storm water drainage lines for the ongoing Metro work, the Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority (MMRDA) and Mumbai Metro Rail Corporation Limited (MMRCL) have made temporary arrangements that might lead to flooding this monsoon.
The concerns have been raised at a time that the BMC is racing against time to prepare for the monsoon — repairing drains, cleaning and desilting nullahs to prevent waterlogging. It has identified 98 flood-prone locations across the city in December last year. In June last year, the BMC had written to the MMRCL, seeking an undertaking that it will make arrangements to drain the rainwater at spots in which the drainage lines were disturbed or broken due to digging. It had also sought reassurance that if any flooding occurs at these locations, the MMRCL will be to blame.
“Drains protected up to the depth of 25 to 30 metres below ground have been dislodged and disturbed, especially in the case of the Metro III (Colaba-Bandra-Seepz) corridor, which is fully underground. Not just drains but other underground utilities like cables and sewer lines have also been disturbed. We have found that all these have not been reinstated properly… the company has just made temporary arrangements, which we think will be unable to bear the load during monsoon,” said V H Khandkar, chief engineer, storm water drains.
Officials claimed that unless concrete measures are taken, the city will definitely be flooded, at least in areas where Metro construction work is going on. This, however, is not the first time that Metro work has damaged BMC’s work, civic officials claimed. They alleged that during the construction of Metro I (Versova-Andheri-Ghatkopar), MMRCL had damaged roads and the drainage system. “The BMC had spent over Rs 65 crore to construct a new drainage line on the Andheri-Kurla Road, which was blocked by Metro pillars. However, this time, the damage will be more if proper measures are not taken,” a senior civic official said.
Meanwhile, work on Metro 2 A had led to another problem in the western suburbs, where footpaths and side strips of roads have been damaged. Once again, the BMC — and, ultimately, the taxpayer — will have to bear the cost of repairs. “We have asked the MMRCL to ensure that there are proper facilities to drain the rainwater into the nearest drainage lines, as we want to ensure that residents are not inconvenienced,” Khandkar said.
On Wednesday, city Mayor Vishwanath Mahadeshwar, who inspected nullah cleaning and desilting work and also the rivers, said the ongoing Metro work would lead to flooding. “BMC has completed over 50 per cent of nullah cleaning and desilting work. However, we found problems at spots where Metro work is in progress. These areas will lead to flooding. BMC shouldn’t be blamed for flooding of these areas, but MMRDA and MMRCL should be,” said Mahadeshwar.
However, senior corporator and BJP group leader in BMC, Manoj Kotak, said: “Has the city not flooded before Metro work started? Was the July 26, 2005 deluge because of Metro work? The city gets flooded and waterlogged due to the inefficiency and shoddy monsoon preparation by civic officials. This time around, these officials and the ruling party has found Metro work to blame for their failure.”
While MMRCL officials did not respond to queries regarding the BMC’s allegations, MMRDA spokesperson Dilip Kawathkar said, “There will be no flooding in the city due to the Metro construction work. All debris on Metro sites will be cleared by May 31. We have also completed 60 per cent of desilting activity on eastern and western express highways and will complete the rest before the monsoon.”
The MMRDA, meanwhile, has completed 50 per cent of the nallah cleaning along the Western Express Highway. Its commissioner has instructed that desilting work should be completed and all the debris should be removed along the corridor within the next fortnight. Between Bandra to Dahisar, the MMRDA has cleaned around 11 km of nallahs, officials said.
Inputs from Benita Chacko