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Monday, November 23, 2020

Coastal road project: In 2016, consultant appointed by BMC flagged need for flood risk assessment  

Heavy rainfall in August and September had caused unprecedented flooding and waterlogging in parts of south Mumbai. Questions were raised on whether this was related to the spate of ongoing construction projects, including Metro and reclamation work for the coastal road.

Written by Laxman Singh | Mumbai | Updated: October 30, 2020 7:26:05 am
mumbai coastal road project, mumbai coastal road project impact, mumbai rains, mumbai flood, mumbai weather, mumbai rain record, mumbai weather forecast, mumbai rains this year, mumbai city newsThe BMC has denied that the flooding in south Mumbai was caused by reclamation work. (File)

While BMC has been insistent that the ongoing construction of the coastal road has played no part in causing unprecedented flooding in south Mumbai during monsoon, a peer review consultant appointed by the civic body had in 2016 warned of the possibility and flagged the need for a flood risk assessment for the project.

“There is a danger that flood risk problems could increase if existing drainage routes are compromised by the reclamation. This could occur either by introduction of undersized structures or failure to identify existing drainage routes. It is recommended that DPR (detailed project report) should include information related to existing surface water drainage systems in the form of a flood risk assessment,” warned consultant Frischmann Prabhu, appointed to peer review the DPR of the coastal road plan, in 2016.

Heavy rainfall in August and September had caused unprecedented flooding and waterlogging in parts of south Mumbai. Questions were raised on whether this was related to the spate of ongoing construction projects, including Metro and reclamation work for the coastal road.

The BMC has denied that the flooding in south Mumbai was caused by reclamation work. “No drains and outfalls were blocked during work. In fact, before starting coastal road work, we opened all drains and extended them up to the sea. One of the main reasons for flooding in south Mumbai was heavy rainfall. Many areas witnessed 200-300 mm rainfall in a very short span… It has nothing to do with coastal road work,” said Vijay Nighot, Chief Engineer of BMC’s coastal road department. Asked if a flood risk assessment has been carried out, he said, “I am not aware. I will have to check.”

Meanwhile, environmentalists have written to Maharashtra Coastal Zone Regulation Authority (MCZMA) seeking direction for BMC to undertake safety measures to prevent such flooding in future. NGO Conservation Action Trust (CAT) has said that the reclamation has blocked existing storm water drains, which caused flooding in many areas that usually do not see waterlogging.

The BMC on Wednesday made a detailed presentation before MCZMA while seeking permission for additional reclamation of 21 hectare for the project. While it Coastal Regulation Zone (CRZ) clearance for reclaiming 90 hectare, it has now increased to 111 hectare.

In a letter to MCZMA, Debi Goenka of CAT, and one of the petitioners who has moved court against the project, said: “Areas that were never flooded earlier, particularly the coastal areas along the west coast of south Mumbai, were repeatedly flooded during the past three months. This flooding was apparently caused by the fact that the existing rainwater flows into the sea were blocked by the reclamation carried out by the BMC for this project.”

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