A day after pre-monsoon showers hit the city, officials of the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) have expedited efforts to ensure a safe monsoon. Civic chief Ajoy Mehta has asked all the top officials to work even on Sundays and visit all flood-prone and sensitive areas to ensure monsoon preparations are completed.
The BMC has claimed that it has made every effort to ensure there is no repeat of the August 29, 2017, deluge. While major nullahs have been cleaned, work on filling potholes across the city is on, said Mehta during the BMC’s pre-monsoon preparedness presentation before the Cabinet last week.
The civic body has also sped up trimming of trees. The BMC has identified nearly 90,000 trees that needed to be trimmed, said a senior civic official.
Mehta said, “Besides cleaning major nullahs, this year, we have also focused on micro-mitigation measures. We marked the spots that had flooded on August 29, 2017, and found out the reason behind flooding, waterlogging there — like railway cables blocking a drain or short and narrow pipes, floating garbage, like plastic or thermocol, blocking outlets of pumping stations, and we have managed to fix these problems at large.”
Using digital cameras, civic officials surveyed 115 culverts along Central Railway and Western Railway lines, got them cleaned and took pictures of the cleaned drains. “This was done to ensure there is a check on the drains cleaning and desilting contractors,” Mehta added.
“At two sites where the drains are running below, the railway lines were narrow, and we got Central Railway to install high-capacity pumps to throw out water,” said V H Khandkar, chief engineer, Stormwater Drains Department.
The BMC had identified around 200 flooding sites earlier this year and installed pumps to draw out excess rainwater. It has also identified 1,400 manholes in areas that often get waterlogged and fitted them with a metal mesh or safety nets so that even if the cover is removed, the mesh will prevent anyone from falling in.
The move, was taken after the death of gastroenterologist Dr Deepak Amrapurkar, who fell into an open manhole while walking along a waterlogged road near Elphinstone Road station on August 29, 2017. His body was found in Worli two days later. Investigation revealed that six locals had opened the manhole to help recede the excess rainwater, however, they did not put the cover back.
On Saturday, Mehta instructed all the officials, zonal deputy municipal commissioner and assistant municipal commissioners of all wards to inspect all flood-prone sites. Officials have also been asked to ensure that safety nets are fitted on all manhole covers.
The rain-carrying capacity of the city’s drains is 50mm per hour, but this is not sufficient and hence our city floods every year, however we are doing every thing in our capacity to ensure maximum relief, he added.
A cabinet sub-committee by the state government has been set up to ensure quick disbursement of relief, in case of a natural disaster. The navy will post divers at Colaba, Worli and Malad, while the National Disaster Response Force will be stationed at Andheri Sport Club.
Last year, the monsoon had arrived on June 12 — a day earlier than what the India Metereological Department had predicted. In 2016, monsoon arrival missed the scheduled date by 10 days and reached the city on June 20.