The Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) has claimed to have cleaned more than its pre-monsoon target of major nullahs across the city, and over 90 per cent of minor ones, so far.
Municipal Commissioner I S Chahal said Saturday, the civic body was supposed to remove 2.53 lakh metric tonne silt from major nullah before onset of monsoon. So far, the civic staff have removed 2.87 lakh metric tonne silt, which is 113.50 per cent, he said.
The BMC had set a target to removing 2.24 lakh metric tonne silt from the minor nullahs across the city, and the Storm Water department has cleaned 92 per cent of them removing 2.05 lakh metric tonne silt, Chahal said.
The BMC has also lifted 1.07 lakh metric tonne of silt from the 21-km-long Mithi river before monsoon that is 107 per cent of its target of 98,578 metric tonne.
The city has over 2,900-km drain network comprising minor and major nullahs, arch drains, roadside open drains and closed pipe drains. As part of its monsoon preparations all these nullahs are desilted to avoid flooding in the city during the rains.
Every year, from April 1 to May 31, the civic body is expected to finish cleaning 70 per cent of the nullahs, while 20 per cent work is done between June and September and the remaining 10 per cent thereafter.
Chahal said that the delay in arrival of monsoon gave BMC more time to prepare and now they are ready for rains. “I am happy to share team BMC’s pre-monsoon preparedness and best possible efforts put in by our team. Slight delay in monsoon arrival has really given us much needed extra time to prepare,” he said.
According to the India Meteorological Department, monsoon was to arrive in the city by June 11. On Saturday, IMD said southwest monsoon will make an onset in Mumbai in next 24 hours.
According to BMC officials, this year the civic body was to complete construction and repair of 91 storm water drain works, of which 90 have been completed or brought at safe stage, so far.
Of the total 336 flooding spots in the city, the civic body has taken corrective measures at 169, officials said, adding that work at 43 spots was in progress. Seventy would be addressed post-monsoon, they said.
Areas like Hindmata, Parel TT, Nana Chowk, Sion, LBS Road near Kapadia Nagar, Kalanagar, Andheri, and Malad witnesses heavy flooding due to rain every year. This year, the BMC will use 330 de-watering pumps for low-lying areas apart from six storm water pumping stations to bail out water in the sea.
“We have also secured manholes with protective grills. At the time of flooding, manholes are opened to drain out rainwater faster,” said officials. The civic body has installed 2,772 protective grills on manholes, of which 2,008 grills have been installed in the island city itself.
Sanjay Jadhav, Chief Engineer of Storm Water Drain department, said despite facing a shortage of labourers due to the Covid-19 pandemic, and machinery, the civic body had taken all preventive measures to achieve the set target. “Our staff has really worked hard even in this adverse condition,” he said. The BMC had roped in NGOs to fill up for the shortage of labourers for the nullah cleaning work.
Accusing the civic body of “misguiding” people with “false” data, opposition leader Ravi Raja said, “If BMC’s claim is true then this year the city should not face water-logging. Nullah cleaning work has not been completed more than 40 per cent. Near many minor nullahs, the removed silt has been lying since many days. When it rains, the silt will flow back to the same nullah.”
Earlier, BJP leaders and corporators have visited various nullah and alleged that only 40 per cent nullah cleaning had been completed. Party’s leader in the BMC, Vinod Mishra, said, “Nullah cleaning has not been done properly this year and it will put more lives at risk.”
Citizen activist Nikhil Desai, meanwhile, pointed out that only 25 per cent silt removed from the nullahs have been transported to designated dumping sites. “Silt has been lying by the nullahs for many days. The purpose of nullah cleaning is defeated if silt is not removed from the site on time,” said Desai.
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